New York Times (07.21.03) - Monday, July 21, 2003
Modeling a CDC program that has long helped the United States
play a leadership role in public health, the World Health
Organization will train young epidemiologists to battle global
outbreaks, according to WHO's incoming director general.
Dr. Jong Wook Lee, a South Korean who today will become the
director-general of WHO, said the new program will be designed
after the Epidemic Intelligence Service, CDC's two-year
training program that provides public health assistance to
countries affected by outbreaks such as AIDS or SARS or by
Creating a similar program represents a bold step for WHO,
which has traditionally focused more on providing advice to
its 192 member countries and gathering experts for technical
reviews. The plan for such a rapid-response program reflects
in part a May vote by member nations to give WHO a stronger
hand in investigating outbreaks.
The SARS epidemic earlier this year helped to underscore the
need not only to battle epidemics but also to train future
leaders in academic and research centers and health
departments, said Lee. "It's very clear that WHO needs to
create a program like CDC's," acknowledged Lee. "For many
years, people have dreamed about doing it, and so I decided,
let's do it."
The Geneva-based program would provide a basic training course
for recruits, some of whom would be assigned to schools of
public health throughout the world and others to health
departments in developing countries. The program would be open
to applicants under age 35, primarily from developing
countries, holding graduate degrees in a health-related field.
Initial reactions to Lee's plan were positive. CDC Director
Dr. Julie L. Gerberding said her agency "would look forward to
collaborating with the World Health Organization to expand"
its epidemiology program. Dr. Peter Piot, director of UNAIDS,
said the proposed program would "strengthen systems to monitor
diseases, which are weak in many countries, and bring more
young people into WHO." In 1978, Piot was among the first non-
Americans to take CDC's course.