|| 'World needs to be prepared for infectious diseases like SARS'
IVI Inauguration Symposium
Friday, June 27, The Korea Economic Daily
‘The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is showing signs of abating, but the world will continue to face unanticipated disease outbreaks, and need to be prepared for them.”
Prof. Barry Bloom, dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, said “We have learned many lessons from the recent SARS epidemics” in his keynote address during a symposium to commemorate the opening of the International Vaccine Institute headquarters on the campus of Seoul National University.
“Because of the enormous economic and political impact of epidemics, it takes great courage in public health to declare to the world that a country has an epidemic. But in the case of SARS, prompt actions taken by the World Health Organization gave every country in the world time to get prepared for a potential global epidemic,” Prof. Bloom said.
He stressed that “Infectious diseases do not respect national boundaries, and the world will continue to see unprecedented diseases, and must be ready to move in whatever direction is needed to address them.”
Dr. Gus Nossal, Emeritus Professor of the University of Melbourne, said “There has been much progress in efforts to develop new vaccines, and improve existing ones. Vaccinology has become a kind of independent discipline.”
Dr. John Clemens, the Director of the IVI, said “With the completion of the new headquarters building with state-of-the-art laboratories, the IVI now has the capacity to strengthen its various research programs. We will step up our research not only on vaccines, but also public health policy in developing countries.”
The symposium, which will continue until Friday with theme “New Frontiers in Vaccinology Research,” brought together more than 200 experts in vaccines from around the world, including Dr. Lee Ho-wang, chairman of the National Academy of Science.
Prior to the opening of the symposium, Dr. Lee Jong-wook, Director-General Elect of the World Health Organization, paid a visit to the IVI to congratulate the inauguration of the IVI headquarters building.
IVI, the only international organization headquartered in Korea
The IVI is the only international organization headquartered in Korea, which was established in 1997 at the initiative of the United Nations Development Program. The institute, which just moved into a new headquarters building, plans to start various research programs to meet needs for vaccines in developing countries. It also plans to produce vaccines for clinical trials, and provide Korean students with chances to study vaccines.
Going forward, the IVI is planning to increase its staff, now about 60, to some 200, and increase its budget to $20 million. Presently, it is carrying out various research programs, including the Diseases of the Most Impoverished, for which it received a $40 million-grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as programs on JE, and other diseases. It has 33 countries and the WHO as signatories to its Establishment Agreement.