Commission adopts proposal to create European Centre for Disease
Prevention and Control
The European Commission yesterday adopted a proposal to create a European
Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) (1).
The centre will have a small core staff and an extended network of contacts
in member states' public health institutes and academia. Governance of the
ECDC will be modelled on similar independent European Union agencies, such
as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). By pooling expertise around
Europe, the ECDC will be able to:
||provide authoritative scientific advice on serious health threats;
||recommend control measures;
||allow quick mobilisation of intervention teams and thus enable a rapid
and effective EU-wide response.
Following approval by the European Parliament and the Council, the ECDC
could be operational as an independent European agency by 2005.
The centre is an important part of the longer term response to the severe
acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and other public health threats (2). During
the SARS outbreak, the EU and member states had a system to monitor the
spread of the SARS virus, but no system for advising or deciding on measures
to contain it.
The core of this network is already in place. Europe’s communicable disease
of which Eurosurveillance is a member, already links experts monitoring
specific diseases and specific issues (3). ECDC will also take over the
work on monitoring and preparedness planning against bioterrorist attacks
that has been pursued by the EU’s Health Security Task Force (4).
It will also coordinate as appropriate with relevant EU agencies, such
as the EFSA, and with other alert systems, such as those run by the World
Health Organization (WHO). Providing scientific assessments and technical
support for public health policies will be a core task of the centre. Web
pages on the ECDC are available at http://europa.eu.int/comm/health/ph_overview/strategy/ecdc/ecdc_en.htm.