In the era of globalisation, with increased international travel and exchange, diseases can spread far and wide rapidly. A health crisis in one country can impact livelihoods and economies of other nations. Hence, prevention of international spread of diseases from one country to another is a significant challenge in the 21st century. As India is signatory to the International Health Regulations -2005, public health measures at international points of entry i.e. airports, ports and land border crossings is a statutory necessity. The Point of Entries (POEs) means the area where any international passenger may enter legally from one country into another country. In India, health units responsible for undertaking measures for surveillance and response health activities at Airports/Seaports/Land Border are known as APHOs (Airport Health Organizations) / PHOs (Port Health Organizations) and Land Border Health Units (LBHUs). Primary objective of these organizations is preventing entry and transmission of infectious diseases/ PHEIC across international borders along with ensuring a safe environment for travellers. Health measures at these entry points are undertaken as per International Health Regulations (WHO- IHR 2005) and in accordance with Indian Aircraft (Public Health) Rules and Indian Port Health Rules.
International Health Division
All the Point of Entries Health (POEs) Organizations are the part of International Health Division of Directorate General of Health Services under Director General of Health Services, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare. The Nodal In-charge for all the point of entries is Deputy Director General International Health (DDG-IH). The main purpose of the Point of Entries Health (POEs) Organizations is to prevent spread of disease (Public Health Emergencies of International Concern) from foreign countries to India and similarly the any disease outbreak of international importance should not be transmitted from India to other foreign countries. Other main purpose of the Point of Entries Health (POEs) Organizations is to ensure provision of safe healthy environment at point of entries for travelers & the staff working at the POEs. The safe healthy environment includes provision of safe food, safe drinking water, sanitation & vector control at POEs.
The activities at International Health (IH) Division:
- Coordinating with the Points of Entries i.e Airports, Ports, Land Border Crossings.
- Administrative and Financial control of PoE’s.
- Periodic review meetings and training activities.
- Formulating Technical Guidelines/Rules/Regulations/SoP’s in the field of International Health for PoE’s.
- Coordinating with the various stakeholders i.e MEA, MoCA, FSSAI, MHA, Ministry of Shipping etc.
- Yellow Fever Vaccination Centers on day to day working.
- Maintenance of the IHR PoE web portal (www.ihpoe.mohfw.gov.in).
- Coordination with various stakeholders for Health needs during annual Haj pilgrimage.
- Technical inputs/comments on MoU’s in between countries, agenda items to World Health Assembly and other relevant technical documents etc.
- Technical Inputs for Medical Value Travel (MVT).
- Technical clearance for International Medical Conferences in the country.