Member states of the World Health Organization are expected to develop and maintain public health systems compliant with the Core Capacities of Surveillance and Response of the International Health Regulations(2005). Compliance with Core Capacities is intended to promote a local response sufficient to control public health emergencies of international concern. The 2008 listeriosis outbreak provided an opportunity to assess Canada’s compliance with the IHR(2005). The activities and events of the outbreak were reconstructed using media and government reports, then assessed according to Core Capacities of detection, reporting, response, confirmation and risk assessment. Canada was deemed partially compliant with the IHR(2005) Core Capacities, as they were exhibited during the listeriosis outbreak. Resources and technical capacities of public health exhibited the potential to comply; however, obstacles in public health governance, policy and politics introduced delays in detection, investigation and risk communication of the outbreak, and uncertainty in setting direction for public health.
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