By Feature Editor Lee Sam-sun
President Moon Jae-in said, “We are in the middle of a war and I don’t think it is right to call the commander back home from the battlefront in the middle of a war!”
Speaking at a meeting called to present a Letter of Appointment to the head of the newly promoted Disease Control and Prevention Administration (DCPA) from the previous Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).
President Moon formally promoted Ms. Jeong Eun-kyeong as the head of the newly promoted DCPA that'll launch on Sept. 13.
For the first time under the Moon Administration, President Moon visited the appointee in person on the site instead of calling her to Cheong Wa Dae (or the Presidential Mansion of Blue Hosue) as Jeong was fully engaged in the fight against the notorious COVID-19 epidemic.
President Moon congratulated her on the disease control body being upgraded to an independent organization saying that he hoped it would better meet the public's expectations and protect people's safety.
The upgraded Disease Control and Prevention Administration will handle its own budget and personnel affairs and will have a larger workforce.
Jeong said she saw the promotion as a reflection of the Korean people's desire for a systematic and professional response to infectious diseases and to swiftly overcome the COVID-19 crisis.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of the Interior and Safety said that a Cabinet meeting on Sept. 8 approved the reshuffle of the organizational structure and affiliates of both the DCPA and the Ministry of Health and Welfare.
The revamp means that the DCPA will supervise the entire disease control process ranging from monitoring and responding to infectious diseases to supporting research and development (R&D) for disease prevention and developing vaccines.
To maintain focus on responding to infectious diseases, the new agency will see a 42% boost in personnel. Thus the DCPA will have a combined 1,476 staff including 438 at headquarters, with a director, vice director, five bureaus, three high-ranking officials, and 41 teams.
Affiliates will include the Korea National Institute of Health, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Disease Management Center, National Tuberculosis Hospital, and national quarantine stations.
The DCPA headquarters will feature a 24-hour control center to monitor crises; a crisis management and analysis official to collect and analyze data on infectious diseases; a medical safety bureau in charge of vaccine supply and safety management; and an official assigned to prevent health hazards in everyday life.
The DCPA's launch is part of the government's effort to boost national capacity in health and medical R&D. A new team for research management and control will be launched within the Korea National Institute of Health, and the institute affiliate Center for Infectious Diseases Research will also be expanded and reorganized as the National Institute of Infectious Disease with 100 staff.
For a more systematic response to infectious diseases by region, the government will build disease control centers in five areas--Seoul and vicinity, the provinces of Chungcheongnam-do, Chungcheongbuk-do, Gyeongsangbuk-do, and Gyeongsangnam-do, and the Honam area comprising Gwangju and the provinces of Jeollabuk-do and Jeollanam-do.