Brussels, 03 Jun 2003
The Council took note of written information from the Commission on co-operation at Union level on preparedness and response to biological and chemical agent attacks (bio-terrorism).
The Commission's Communication (June 2003) describes the results obtained so far in the framework of the health security action plan, launched by the Council (Health) on 15 November 2001. The results include, inter alia:
- the creation of a Health Security Committee of high-level representatives of the Member States;
- a 24 hour/7 day-a-week rapid alert system (RAS-BICHAT), operational since June 2002;
- a Task Force including eight national experts responsible for implementing the health security action plan;
- a co-operation platform between public health laboratories in all Member States;
- lists of bio-terrorism agents and clinical guidelines on how to handle these (e.g. anthrax, smallpox, botulism, plague, tularemia, haemorrhagic fever viruses, brucella, Q fever, encephalitis viruses, glanders and melioidosis);
- a guidance document for the use of antidotes to the agents mentioned above, produced by the European Medicines Evaluation Agency (EMEA).
The Commission drew Member States attention to the need for continuing efforts to reinforce preparedness for and response to deliberate releases of biological and chemical agents. According to the Communication, it has become apparent that more time is needed fully to accomplish the objectives of the health security action plan than the initial 18-month period.