In line with the International Health Regulations, the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) establishes Review Committees to carry out several functions, among which is the provision of technical advice on any matter referred to by the Director-General regarding the functioning of the IHR. These committees function in strict accordance with the WHO Regulations for Expert Advisory Panels and Committees, ensuring a robust and evidence-based decision-making process.
So far, the Director General convened seven IHR review committees, two of which are active: The Review Committee regarding Standing Recommendations for COVID-19 and the Review Committee regarding Standing Recommendations for Mpox are presently offering the technical advice to the Director-General. The dedicated efforts of these committees are aimed at shaping Standing Recommendations for COVID-19 and mpox, as proposed by the Director-General, and contributing to global health preparedness and response strategies.
COVID-19 pandemic ceased to be classified as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on May 5, 2023, and temporary recommendations issued under Article 15 of the IHR will be valid until August 4, 2023. So now, the Review Committee regarding Standing Recommendations for COVID-19 will be actively providing appropriate and relevant views and technical advice to the Director-General. Similarly, the multi-country outbreak of mpox was no longer considered a PHEIC on May 11, 2023, and temporary recommendations, issued under Article 15 of the IHR, are valid until August 10, 2023. As such, the Review Committee regarding Standing Recommendations for mpox will be offering the appropriate technical advice to the Director-General.
Both committees convened pursuant to Articles 16, 50.1.(b), and 53 of the IHR and on the advice of the IHR Emergency Committee and held their inaugural meeting on July 27, 2023.
In support of the work of both committees, Dr. Mohannad Al Nsour, the Executive Director of EMPHNET, is actively contributing his expertise as a member of both committees. Previously, he has also served in the Review Committee regarding amendments to the IHR (2005)— whose mandate has concluded and now ongoing member states discussions are taking place on proposed amendments.
In addition to Dr Al Nsour’s participation, several other notable experts from the Eastern Mediterranean Region are actively participating to ensure comprehensive inputs and regional representation in the committees. Among them, Dr Mohammad Abdelfattah Abdelmawla Abdelaziz, who serves as the Undersecretary for Preventive Affairs at the Ministry of Health and Population in Egypt; Dr. Akram Ali Eltoum, a COVID-19 Regional Program Development Consultant and Project Director for Project HOPE in North Africa; Dr. Mohamed Moussif, the Chief Medical Officer at Casablanca International Airport in Morocco, and the National Coordinator of the Points of Entry Program in the country; Dr. Mahmudur Rahman, the Country Director of the Eastern Mediterranean Public Health Network (EMPHNET) in Bangladesh. The active involvement of these distinguished experts ensures that the committees receive diverse perspectives and informed recommendations, thereby addressing the unique challenges and needs of the region.
The Committees are supported by various international experts from different regions and institutions in addition to the IHR Secretariat. The Terms of Reference for these Review Committees are available here, providing transparency and clarity regarding their essential responsibilities. With the expertise and dedication of their members, including input from the IHR Emergency Committee, these Review Committees will play a crucial role in safeguarding global health in the face of infectious diseases.
 Non-binding advice issued by WHO for specific ongoing public health risks pursuant to Article 16 regarding appropriate health measures for routine or periodic application needed to prevent or reduce the international spread of disease and minimize interference with international traffic. Source: International Health Regulations (2005)
 Non-binding advice issued by WHO pursuant to Article 15 for application on a time-limited, risk-specific basis, in response to a public health emergency of international concern, so as to prevent or reduce the international spread of disease and minimize interference with international traffic. Source: International Health Regulations (2005)