Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

Canada; Mexico; United States: Agreement on Health Emergencies

(July 2, 2014) Health authorities from Mexico, the United States, and Canada recently announced that they have reached an agreement on a Declaration of Intent that sets forth guidelines and principles concerning how these countries will exchange public information during health emergencies of common interest. (Press Release, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), United States, Canada and Mexico Strengthen Information Sharing in Health Emergencies (May 20, 2014); Declaration of Intent to Coordinate Health Emergency Public Communications Between the Department of Health and Human Services of the United States of America, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and the Secretariat of Health of the United Mexican States (May 20, 2014), HHS website.)

The Declaration indicates that these countries intend to:

  • exchange with each other statements and plans pertaining to health emergencies before releasing them to the public;
  • notify other proper authorities of their respective countries when the Declaration is cited;
  • hold meetings as they deem necessary in order to amend and review the Declaration; and
  • perform a communications test every year to refine joint coordination. (Press Release, supra.)

According to a press release issued by the United States, the Declaration of Intent supports relevant rules of the World Health Organization’s International Health Regulations, which provide that neighbor countries should consider reaching agreements and cooperating on public health matters of mutual interest. (Id.; World Health Organization, International Health Regulations, art. 21 (2-a) (2005).)

The press release further indicates that the Declaration also supports the tenets of the North American Plan for Animal and Pandemic Influenza, which provides guidelines applicable to the coordination of efforts that these three countries intend to deploy in the event of a pandemic virus spreading to, or originating in, the North American region. (Press Release, supra; North American Plan for Animal and Pandemic Influenza (Apr. 2, 2012), HHS website.)