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S. Korea Boosts KCDC Autonomy to Fight Future Epidemics

Written: 2020-09-08 13:32:42Updated: 2020-09-08 14:55:56

S. Korea Boosts KCDC Autonomy to Fight Future Epidemics

Photo : YONHAP News

Anchor: The status of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or KCDC, will be elevated this week to an independent state agency overseeing the country's infectious disease response. Dubbed the "Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency" or "KDCA," the organization will exercise its own autonomy in infectious disease policy making. The move comes in an effort to prepare for future pandemics. 
Kim Bum-soo has more.  


[Sound bite: Cabinet meeting (Sep. 8, 2020)]

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or KCDC, has been operating under the supervision of the Ministry of Health and Welfare. 

President Moon Jae-in and his cabinet ministers on Tuesday held a meeting to turn the nation's anti-epidemic command post into an independent authority with greater policy discretion and manpower. 

It's dubbed the "Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency," or "KDCA".

[Sound bite: President Moon Jae-in (Korean/English translation)]
"Upgrading to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency will be a breakthrough in the advancement of our epidemic response."
"The KCDC has been excellent in taking the central role in our K-quarantine programs against COVID-19, which has been globally recognized. Based on that trust, it has been upgraded today into the KDCA, a central epidemic control authority with greater expertise and independence." 

Starting from Saturday, the KDCA will collect and analyze data, and draft policies to fight against infectious diseases. It will set up a new situation room, operating around the clock as a permanent organ.

Its personnel will be beefed up by over 40 percent from the current level.  

[Sound bite: President Moon Jae-in (Korean/English translation)]
"In addition, under the KDCA's Korea National Institute of Health, a national infectious disease lab will be established to build an overarching epidemiological research and development system, under which virus and clinical research, as well as the development of vaccines, will be supported." 

Five regional centers will be set up nationwide, to put in place airtight quarantine collaboration with local governments.  

The move comes not just to deal with COVID-19 but to prepare for unknown epidemics coming in the future. 

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters that now is time to invest in public health.

[Sound bite: WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (English)]
"This will not be the last pandemic. History teaches us that outbreaks and pandemics are a fact of life. But when the next pandemic comes, the world must be ready — more ready than it was this time..."
“There are many other examples we could give, including Cambodia, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Senegal, Spain, Vietnam and more."

He noted that South Korea and other countries had learned lessons from SARS and MERS to be more effectively ready for infectious diseases. 
Kim Bum-soo, KBS World Radio News.

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