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January 19, 2017 Federal Register
US Health and Human Services final rulemaking, WHO International Health Regulations, and human liberty.
I’m working on writing up my notes from Attorney Todd Callender’s interview by Dr. Elizabeth Lee Vliet, and doing some research to correct timeline errors and review cited documents.
Among other key events, Callender pointed to the 2005 adoption, through the World Health Organization, of a set of International Health Regulations.
The WHO description accompanying publication of the second edition (emphasis added):
“In response to the exponential increase in international travel and trade, and emergence and reemergence of international disease threats and other health risks, 196 countries across the globe have agreed to implement the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR). This binding instrument of international law entered into force on 15 June 2007.
The stated purpose and scope of the IHR are "to prevent, protect against, control and provide a public health response to the international spread of disease in ways that are commensurate with and restricted to public health risks, and which avoid unnecessary interference with international traffic and trade."
Because the IHR are not limited to specific diseases, but are applicable to health risks, irrespective of their origin or source, they will follow the evolution of diseases and the factors affecting their emergence and transmission.
The IHR also require States to strengthen core surveillance and response capacities at the primary, intermediate and national level, as well as at designated international ports, airports and ground crossings. They further introduce a series of health documents, including ship sanitation certificates and an international certificate of vaccination or prophylaxis for travelers...
The 2005 International Health Regulations required each signatory nation-state to adopt implementing legislation, which the United States government did, through revisions to 42 CFR Parts 70 and 71, governing interstate and foreign quarantine during any "public health emergency of international concern" as declared by the HHS Secretary and the director of the World Health Organization.
The most recent major, highly-relevant revisions of 42 CFR Parts 70 and 71 occurred through a "final rulemaking" by the Department of Health and Human Services, published in the Federal Register on Jan. 19, 2017 (6890 Federal Register/Vol. 82, No. 12) and effective Feb. 17, 2017.
The revisions were put in place just as Donald Trump was taking office as US President after a surprising electoral win.
Excerpts from Federal Register 6890:
[p. 81] Public health emergency as used in this part means:
(1) Any communicable disease event as determined by the Director with either documented or significant potential for regional, national, or international communicable disease spread or that is highly likely to cause death or serious illness if not properly controlled; or
(2) Any communicable disease event described in a declaration by the Secretary pursuant to 319(a) of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 247d (a)); or
(3) Any communicable disease event the occurrence of which is notified to the World Health Organization, in accordance with Articles 6 and 7 of the International Health Regulations, as one that may constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern; or
(4) Any communicable disease event the occurrence of which is determined by the Director-General of the World Health Organization, in accordance with Article 12 of the International Health Regulations, to constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern; or
(5) Any communicable disease event for which the Director-General of the World Health Organization, in accordance with Articles 15 or 16 of the International Health Regulations, has issued temporary or standing recommendations for purposes of preventing or promptly detecting the occurrence or reoccurrence of the communicable disease.
Health and Human Services/CDC officials responded to public comments expressing concern.
[pp. 16-17] One commenter also requested clarification concerning whether the World Health Organization’s (WHO) declaration of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) could continue to serve as the basis for a ‘‘public health emergency’’ if the President or HHS Secretary disagreed with the declaration of a PHEIC on legal, epidemiologic, or policy grounds.
In response, HHS/CDC notes that the scenario proposed by the commenter is unlikely, but that CDC remains a component of HHS, subject to the authority and supervision of the HHS Secretary and President of the United States.
HHS/CDC also received a comment objecting to referencing the WHO’s declaration of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) in the definition of ‘‘public health emergency’’ because this ostensibly relinquishes U.S. sovereignty.
HHS/CDC disagrees. By including references to a PHEIC, HHS/CDC is not constraining its actions or makings its actions subject to the dictates of the WHO. Rather, the declaration or notification of a PHEIC is only one way for HHS/CDC to define when the precommunicable stage of a quarantinable communicable disease may be likely to cause a public health emergency if transmitted to other individuals.
While HHS/CDC will give consideration to the WHO’s declaration of a PHEIC or the circumstances under which a PHEIC may be notified to the WHO, HHS/CDC will continue to make its own independent decisions regarding when a quarantinable communicable disease may be likely to cause a public health emergency if transmitted to other individuals. Thus, HHS/CDC disagrees that referencing the WHO determination of a PHEIC results in any relinquishment of U.S. sovereignty.
The International Health Regulations are an international legal instrument that sets out the roles of WHO and State parties in identifying, responding to, and sharing information about public health emergencies of international concern. HHS/CDC believes that it would be unlikely for the United States to formally object to the WHO’s declaration of a PHEIC, but that CDC remains a component of HHS, subject to the authority and supervision of the HHS Secretary and President of the United States.
Also regarding the definition of ‘‘public health emergency,’’ one public health association expressed concern that any disease considered to be a public health emergency may qualify it as quarantinable. Another commenter noted that some PHEICs ‘‘most certainly do not qualify as public health emergencies’’ under the proposed definition. HHS/CDC appreciates the opportunity to clarify. Only those communicable diseases listed by Executive Order of the President may qualify as quarantinable communicable diseases. For example, Zika virus infection, which although the current epidemic was declared a PHEIC by WHO, is not a quarantinable communicable disease. The definition of Public health emergency is finalized as proposed."
As we all now know, the HHS/CDC blandishments — about scenarios in which the United States government would subordinate its national sovereignty to the World Health Organization being “unlikely” — were lies, told with full knowledge of their falsehood by the HHS/CDC liars.