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Geneva, 20 May 2014 (PAHO/WHO) -- Top health officials from the Canada, Mexico and the United States agreed this week to strengthen information sharing during health emergencies, during the 67th World Health Assembly in Geneva.

In a declaration of intent signed on May 20, Secretary of Health of Mexico Mercedes Juan  joined Minister of Health of Canada Rona Ambrose and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to sign an agreement setting out principles and guidelines on how the three countries' governments will share in advance public information and communication products during health emergencies of mutual interest.

"This declaration will help our countries work together on the essential task of communicating more effectively on public health issues, which will protect the health of all of our citizens," said Ambrose. 

The agreement calls on the three countries to:

  • Share public communication plans, statements and other communication products related to health emergencies with each other prior to their public release;
  • Apprise other appropriate authorities, depending on the type of health emergency, within their respective governments when the declaration is invoked;
  • Conduct an annual short communications exercise to improve joint coordination; and
  • Hold recurrent meetings, as they may mutually determine, to review and propose amendments to the Declaration of Intent.

The agreement supports the requirements of the International Health Regulations, which govern how WHO member countries report and respond to public health events of potential international concern.

The full declaration of intent is available in English and Spanish.