Geneva Global Health Week

Covid-19 & Cross-Border Health Measures: Lessons Learned and Critical Questions for the Future of the International Health Regulations

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74th World Health Assembly Side Event


Online Discussion, 3pm CEST

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The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in the unprecedented and nearly universal adoption of international travel restrictions by states, despite World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations against such measures when it declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on January 30, 2020. Having since eased its stance, WHO stops short of recommending the adoption of trade or travel restrictions. WHO recommendations against cross-border restrictions echoed widely held beliefs that such measures were likely to have limited public health effect, while incurring significant social, economic and political costs. Bolstered by an imperative to support an effective, globally coordinated response to the pandemic, these ideas were based on previously available data, past outbreaks, and principles underpinning the International Health Regulations (IHR). The global reality stands in stark contrast to the vision of the IHR (2005), and, some argue, in conflict with stipulations on interference in international traffic (Article 43). However, the evidence originally underpinning the IHR has also shifted. Join us for this dynamic, interdisciplinary discussion that will unpack why, how and to what extent countries have implemented cross-border measures in response to Covid-19, and what lessons can be learned for the future of the IHR and the broader global health ecosystem.



  • Barbara von Tigerstrom, Professor, College of Law, University of Saskatchewan
  • Lisa Forman, Associate Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto
  • Diego Silva, Lecturer, Health Ethics, School of Public Health, University of Sydney
  • Roojin Habibi, Research Fellow & PhD Candidate, Global Strategy Lab, and Osgoode Hall Law School, York University
  • Karen Grépin, Associate Professor, School of Public Health, University of Hong Kong
  • Catherine Worsnop, Assistant Professor, School of Public Policy, University of Maryland
  • James Wiltshire, Assistant Director, External Affairs, International Air Transport Association
  • Aparna Ananthakrishnan, Overseas Development Institute Fellow, Health Intervention and Technology Assessment Program, Ministry of Public Health, Thailand
  • Moderator: Jason Yin, PhD Candidate, University of Hong Kong


This event is co-organised by

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