U.S. health secretary praises international health regulations

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius hailed the International Health Regulation (IHR) system on Monday during her opening remarks at the 67th World Health Assembly in Geneva.

Sebelius said that the international standards and cooperation created by IHRs in 2007 have helped prepare for potential outbreaks of infectious diseases.

"The ongoing outbreaks of MERS, H7N9, and ebola remind us that every outbreak is only a plane ride away," Sebelius said. "The devastating loss of life impact all of us, no matter where in the world we happen to live. The IHRs give us a framework for working collaboratively so that we can prepare for these events, respond to these events and, when possible, prevent these events."

Sebelius also noted U.S. investments in the CDC to improve preparedness in 10 countries, as well as the establishment of the Global Health Security Agenda earlier this year.

Sebelius ended her remarks by encouraging further international cooperation.

"At the end of the day, our shared Global Health Security Agenda and our efforts to enforce IHRs are more than just a health agenda or a security agenda," Sebelius said. "They're an economic agenda. They're an agricultural agenda. They're a humanitarian agenda. And they're a diplomatic agenda."