New nominee for WHO Regional Director for Europe

Copenhagen, 15 September 2009

Zsuzsanna Jakab has been nominated as the new WHO Regional Director for Europe at the annual meeting of the WHO European Region’s governing body held this week in Copenhagen, Denmark. Mrs Jakab, a Hungarian national and the first representative of Hungary to lead a WHO region, is currently Director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. She was one of five candidates for the post; the other candidates were from Georgia, Greece, Italy and the Netherlands.

Mrs Jakab is scheduled to take up her new post on 1 February 2010, succeeding Dr Marc Danzon, 62, who has served as the Regional Director for Europe for the past 10 years. Mrs Jakab’s nomination is subject to confirmation by WHO’s global Executive Board next January.

In her address to delegates at the Regional Committee, Mrs Jakab pledged to move the health agenda forward within WHO and bring the WHO European Region of 53 Member States together. “I am looking forward to working with every single state in the Region. I will do everything I can to make sure the WHO Regional Office for Europe remains a strong centre with a leading role in both health policy and public health, which works in full partnership in Europe but also globally, as well as, of course, in partnership with the European Union for the benefit of the whole Region and WHO.” She also stressed her commitment to strengthen the collaboration with WHO headquarters under the leadership of Dr Margaret Chan. “Dr Chan once said that the WHO European Region has a special place within WHO, because many innovative ideas on primary health care and others were produced and nourished there. The Director-General then went on to list many of the innovative initiatives that were pioneered in this Region to make the multisectoral approach work. All were new for the whole world and were steps forward at that time. I pledge to our Member States that – together with the staff of the Office, which is an asset in a knowledge-based organization such as WHO – I will do everything in my power to ensure that this Region continues to provide leadership in public health.”

“During my campaign, I said that I believed in the Regional Office and I knew I could make it a success. Now I would like to say that together we will make it a success,” she concluded.

Biographical note

Mrs Zsuzsanna Jakab was appointed Director of the European Union (EU) European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in March 2005. Before joining ECDC, she was Secretary of State in Hungary’s Ministry of Health. As the most senior civil servant at the Ministry, she was responsible for overseeing Hungary’s implementation of 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 Fourth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health, held in Budapest in July 2004.

Before joining the Hungarian Government, she worked at the WHO Regional Office for Europe in Denmark for 11 years. In October 2000, Mrs Jakab was appointed Director of Administration and Management Support at the Regional Office, responsible for supporting governing bodies; overseeing strategic and operational planning, monitoring and evaluation; supervising the work of WHO collaborating centres in Europe; and legal matters and administration.

Between 1991 and 2002, she held several posts at the Regional Office, including Coordinator, Division of Information, Evidence and Communication; Director, Country Health Development; and Coordinator, Policy and Country programme, and EUROHEALTH programme.

Born in 1951 in Hungary, Mrs Jakab holds a Master’s degree from Eötvös Loránd University of Sciences, Faculty of Humanities, Budapest, a postgraduate university degree from the University of Political Sciences, Budapest, a diploma of the two foundation courses in public health at the Nordic School of Public Health, Gothenburg, Sweden (public health sciences and qualitative methods/ public health science and epidemiology) and a postgraduate diploma from the National Institute of Public Administration and Management.

For more information and interviews with Mrs Jakab, contact:

Ms Liuba Negru
Press and Media Relations Officer
WHO Regional Office for Europe
Scherfigsvej 8, DK-2100 Copenhagen Ø, Denmark
Tel.: +45 39 17 13 44
Fax: +45 39 17 18 80