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Wednesday, 15 December 2004

Protecting Europe from epidemics: Director named for new EU health agency

The Management Board of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has nominated Mrs Zsuzanna Jakab, a senior public health official from Hungary, to be the Centre’s first Director. This marks a crucial stage in the start up of the ECDC, a new EU agency designed to strengthen Europe’s defences against infectious diseases. Outbreaks such as SARS in 2003 and bird flu in 2004 have shown how rapidly such diseases can spread internationally. With the resurgence of HIV/AIDS in Europe and preparedness against a possible influenza pandemic high on EU health ministers’ agenda (see MEMO/04/283), the ECDC is seen as having a key role to play in delivering the EU’s public health agenda. Markos Kyrpianou, the European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection has welcomed today’s decision. “Mrs Jakab has an impressive track record in international public health cooperation. I am sure she will provide the ECDC with the leadership it needs to start up its activities and establish its reputation”. Mrs Jakab will appear in front of a European Parliament committee in early 2005 before her appointment. Once the appointment is confirmed the Director can begin recruiting staff for the Centre and establishing its Europe-wide network of disease control experts.