Commissioner David Byrne to be special envoy for World Health Organization
22 October 2004 | Geneva/Brussels - The outgoing European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, David Byrne, is to take up a new role as a special envoy for the World Health Organization (WHO). When he completes his current term at the European Commission, on October 31, Mr Byrne will become the WHO Special Envoy on the revision of the International Health Regulations.
The International Health Regulations are the main piece of international law governing the control of infectious diseases. They were first adopted in 1969 for a small number of diseases and with minor amendments have remained largely unchanged since then. The revision of the Regulations to broaden their scope has been under way for several years and is now approaching a crucial decision point. The revision has become more urgent in light of the recent outbreaks of SARS and avian influenza.
"I am delighted that Commissioner Byrne will be joining WHO at this key moment," said LEE Jong-wook, WHO Director-General. "It is a mark of the importance of the revision process that someone of David Byrne's stature is willing to take on this role."
"This is an honour for me and I am very much looking forward to working with Dr Lee and his dedicated staff," said Mr Byrne. "The revision of the International Health Regulations is a cornerstone of internationally accepted rules on communicable diseases. Next time there is a SARS outbreak there will be rules. This is deadly important "
Officials from WHO's 192 Member States will come together from 1 - 12 November to negotiate a revised draft of the Regulations. The final draft will be presented to the World Health Assembly in May, 2005.
Mr Byrne's role will be to facilitate this process of negotiation between the Member States. He will work with the Member States and with the WHO Director-General to resolve any outstanding difficulties and to build support for the solutions proposed.