Australia’s Joint External Evaluation of International Health Regulations Implementation
What is the Joint External Evaluation?
The World Health Organization (WHO) has established a Monitoring and Evaluation Framework to assess country compliance with the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR). One pillar of the framework is the Joint External Evaluation (JEE).
The JEE is a voluntary process in which a team of internal and external experts jointly assess a country’s ability to prevent, detect and respond to public health threats across 19 core capacities of the IHR.
The JEE is completed in two-stages: an initial self-evaluation conducted by the host country using the JEE Tool, and an in-country evaluation conducted by an external evaluation team of subject matter experts, in close collaboration with the host country.
Australia’s final JEE Mission Report is available.
Australia’s JEE of IHR compliance took place throughout 2017. The self-evaluation phase occurred between January and October 2017, and included consultation with over 25 Australian Government agencies, expert committees and organisations, and all eight state and territory governments.
Australia’s JEE Self-Evaluation Report was finalised and submitted to the WHO before the external evaluation phase, which was conducted between 24 November to 1 December 2017.
Australia’s JEE Mission consisted of eight site visits to key public health preparedness and response facilities, and 19 technical panel discussions in Melbourne and Canberra. The external evaluation team comprised experts from Finland, Canada, China, Japan, New Zealand, United States of America, representatives from the WHO and the World Organisation for Animal Health, as well as observers from Canada and New Zealand.
Why did Australia volunteer for a JEE?
Australia is committed to global health security and views the full implementation of the IHR as vital in ensuring capacity to respond quickly and effectively to emerging public health threats, including infectious disease outbreaks and chemical/radiation emergencies. Although Australia has been IHR-compliant since 2012 and has a well-developed health security system, no system is perfect and there is value in ensuring continuous improvement. Having technical experts objectively review the systems, policies, procedures and relationships that support IHR implementation in Australia is beneficial in assisting to identify priorities for targeting of resources for ongoing strengthening.
How did Australia find the JEE experience?
Australia has found the year-long JEE process to be a positive and valuable opportunity to work with stakeholders across multiple sectors and at all levels of government to review systems for preventing, preparing for and responding to public health emergencies.
The nature of the JEE process and in particular, the multisectoral questions of the JEE Tool, provided the catalyst to discuss key issues, build on and leverage existing relationships, and develop new relationships outside of established networks.
Next Steps and Australia’s National Action Plan for Health Security
Australia’s final JEE Mission Report, published by the WHO, contains 66 recommendations to further strengthen Australia’s IHR compliance and improve health security.
Australia used the recommendations from the JEE to produce Australia’s National Action Plan for Health Security 2019-2023 (NAPHS):
PDF printable version of Australia’s National Action Plan for Health Security 2019-2023 (PDF 1464 KB)
Word accessible version of Australia’s National Action Plan for Health Security 2019-2023 (Word 1111 KB)
As coordinator of the NAPHS, the Australian Government Department of Health consulted with key stakeholders during its development, including the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, other Australian Government agencies, expert groups, and state and territory governments.
More information regarding the timeframes for implementation of the recommendations will be provided after the first 6-monthly reporting period of 2019.
What about JEEs in other countries?
Australia has provided expertise to JEEs in other countries within the Asia-Pacific region. Australia will continue to work with the WHO and health security partners to support the JEE program globally.
Sharing our Lessons Learnt
Australia continues to fully support the JEE process and use of the JEE Tool, particularly now that Australia has undergone a JEE.
The Department of Health has developed a document outlining Australia’s JEE methodology and key lessons learnt in the hope that it may be useful to other countries. The document is available on request by contacting [email protected].
Australia’s health security to be put to the test – 24 November 2017