PAHO continues to track the evolving infectious disease situation, as well as events related to contaminated goods, food safety, or of chemical or radionuclear origins, to alert Member States, when needed, as well as to share technical expertise, and mount the kind of response needed to protect populations from the consequences of epidemics, whatever and wherever might be their origin.

For this purpose, permanent communication channels between Member States and the WHO IHR Regional Contact Point have been established and are routinely tested to ensure access.

The International Health Regulations (2005) or "IHR (2005)" provide a framework for WHO to detect, verify and assess international outbreaks and other public health risks and emergencies.  When the IHR (2005) went into force on 15 June 2007, new operational concepts were introduced shaping the functions of DVA. Prior to the WHO reform leading to the creation of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme in 2016, and the development of the DVA team, these functions were carried out by the Alert and Response Operations (ARO) team.

Key operational elements introduced by the IHR (2005) falling under the care of DVA include:

  • The implementation of specific procedures for notification, consultation, and reporting of public health events.

  • The establishment of permanent communication channels, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, between Member States and the WHO IHR Contact Point. 

  • Sending verification requests to IHR National Focal Points, regarding reports of public health events occurring within Member State territories.

The IHR (2005) also includes the offer of international collaboration to countries affected or threatened by an emergency. This collaboration includes guidance and technical cooperation, the mobilization of international experts to provide assistance in the field and provision of the supplies needed to respond to the situation.