WHO office in Lyon: Celebrates ten year anniversary with new agreement
Wednesday 20 April marks the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the WHO office in Lyon , France. The ceremony also marks the renewal of the agreement between WHO and the French partners supporting the work of the office.
The WHO Lyon office was inaugurated in 2001 to support WHO regional offices in their commitment to help developing countries improve their public health epidemiology and laboratory diagnostic competencies. Lyon was chosen as the site because of its scientific, institutional and industrial development strategy, centred on vaccinology, immuno-virology and biotechnology.
Since then, the scope of activities in the office was broadened, and it is now part of the International Health Regulations Coordination Department at WHO headquarters. It has a specific role in supporting the six WHO regional offices in strengthening national capacities in countries under the scope of the International Health Regulations (IHR). The specific areas of work are laboratory quality strengthening, epidemiological surveillance, points of entry, human resource development and training.
Dr Isabelle Nuttall is Director of the IHR Coordination Department since February 2011. She underscored the importance of working in collaboration with the WHO Regional Offices to support the countries in developing the public health capacities required under IHR.
"Supporting the countries in strengthening their ability to detect and respond to a public health emergency of international concern, is as important as ever" says Dr Nuttall. "Last year's pandemic H1N1 and the current crisis in Japan clearly demonstrated the importance of the IHR as both a legal framework and a common platform for the international community to work from. The landscape of public health is evolving rapidly, requiring countries to face greater challenges in preparing for and responding to public health crisis. We are therefore very pleased to have the support we need, thanks to our French partners to continue this very important work."
In his address at the celebration ceremony of the 10 year anniversary of the WHO Lyon Office, Ambassador Jean-Baptiste Matteï, Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations, stressed the important role of the Office in supporting countries to reinforce core capacities to fight against epidemics, including the creation of a network of qualified laboratory specialists, to achieve global health security. "The task of securing global health security is a daunting one," says Ambassador Matteï, "France has a long history of supporting the fight against epidemics, dating as far back as 1851 when the first international health conference was held in Paris, which focused on containing plague, cholera and yellow fever. France is as committed as ever today to achieving global health security, and will continue to support WHO efforts in reaching this goal."
The French partners of the WHO Lyon office include the French Government, the Grand Lyon, the Rhône-Alpes region, the Départment du Rhône and the Institut Pasteur. The new agreement implies a renewal by tacit agreement every five years.
The IHR (2005) is a binding instrument of international law. Their aim is to help the international community prevent and respond to acute public health risks that have the potential to cross borders and threaten people worldwide. Their objective is also to limit interference with international traffic and trade. 194 countries and territories across the globe have agreed to implement the International Health Regulations (2005).