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MEMO/04/297

Stockholm and Brussels, 14 December 2004

ECDC Management Board nominates Mrs. Zsuzsanna Jakab as Director: new agency will start work in 2005

Mrs. Zsusanna Jakab, currently the senior civil servant at Hungary’s Ministry of Health, has been nominated as Director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), a new EU agency designed to strengthen Europe’s defences against epidemics (see MEMO/04/227). The nomination was made yesterday at a meeting of the ECDC’s Management Board in Stockholm, seat of the new agency. The Management Board interviewed three candidates short listed for the post and overwhelmingly backed Mrs. Jakab. She will have a hearing with the European Parliament’s Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee early in 2005, after which her appointment will be confirmed. Mrs. Jakab would be the first national from one of the Member States that joined the EU on 1 May 2004 to become the head of an EU agency.

Markos Kyprianou, the European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection has welcomed the decision. “Mrs. Jakab has an impressive track record in international public health, both in terms of her management skills and her political vision. I am sure she will provide the ECDC with the leadership it needs to start up its activities and establish its reputation”.

Dr. Marc Sprenger, Chairman of the ECDC said: “Integrating the disease surveillance systems across the 25 EU Member States is one of the most immediate challenges the ECDC faces. Mrs. Jakab’s knowledge of public health in both central and western Europe, combined with her proven diplomatic skills, makes her uniquely well qualified to achieve this.”

Mrs. Jakab said:”I am delighted and honoured to have been nominated as Director. Faced with threats such as the resurgence of HIV/AIDS on our continent and the possibility of an influenza pandemic, the pressure is already on for the ECDC to start delivering results. I will do my utmost to start up the Centre rapidly and efficiently.”

Biography of Mrs. Zsuzsanna Jakab

Mrs. Zsuzsanna Jakab is currently Secretary of State in Hungary’s Ministry of Health. As the most senior civil servant at the ministry she has been responsible for overseeing Hungary’s implementation of the EU policies and laws in her area, administering the spending of EU financial assistance, and managing Hungary’s national public health programme. Mrs Jakab also played a key role in the negotiations leading up to the European Conference on Health and the Environment, held in Budapest in July this year (see IP/04/779).

Mrs. Jakab worked as a Director in WHO Europe for 11 years before being invited by to join the ministry by the Hungarian government in 2002.

Photograph of Mrs. Jakab

A photograph of Mrs. Jakab taken in Stockholm today will be available tomorrow. It will be posted at the web address given at the end of this memo.

A rigorous and open recruitment process

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.

Next steps for the ECDC

Mrs. Jakab will have a hearing with the European Parliament’s Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee early in 2005, after which her appointment will be confirmed.

The first tasks of the Director will be to begin recruiting staff for the Centre and start taking over and strengthening the EU’s existing disease surveillance and early warning network (see MEMO/03/155). A start up team of ECDC staff should be in place in Stockholm by May 2005.

The mission of the ECDC is to strengthen Europe’s defences against infectious diseases, such as SARS, influenza and HIV-AIDS, by networking the knowledge in Member States’ disease control agencies and facilitating co-operation between them.

Further information available from:

http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_overview/strategy/ecdc/ecdc_en.htm


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