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.
Enabling legislation to create the ECDC was passed by the European Parliament and Council in spring this year (see: IP/04/190). This legislation fixed Stockholm as its seat, in line with the decision of the December 2003 European Council that the Centre be based in Sweden.
The post of Director of the ECDC was advertised in the EU’s Official Journal and in the press in August and early September. Thirty five applications were received, with candidates coming from a wide range of EU countries. The European Commission was responsible for assessing the applications and, after a rigorous process of interviews and screening, it presented the ECDC Management Board with a shortlist of three candidates.
The agency’s Management Board interviewed the short listed candidates yesterday before making its selection.
A press memo containing more information about Mrs Jakab will be published today.
For background information about the ECDC and its role see: