Of the 46 countries in the World Health Organization (WHO) African region (AFRO), 43 are implementing Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) guidelines to improve their abilities to detect, confirm, and respond to high priority communicable and non-communicable diseases. IDSR provides a framework for strengthening the surveillance, response, and laboratory core capacities required by the revised International Health Regulations (IHR, 2005)]. In turn, IHR obligations can serve as a driving force to sustain national commitments to IDSR strategies.

The ability to report potential public health events of international concern according to IHR (2005) relies on early warning systems founded in national surveillance capacities. Public health events reported through IDSR to the WHO Emergency Management System in Africa illustrate the growing capacities in African countries to detect, assess, and report infectious and noninfectious threats to public health. The IHR (2005) provide an opportunity to continue strengthening national IDSR systems so they can characterise outbreaks and respond to public health events in the region.