Name: Kuulo Kutsar
Background: MD, PhD
Title: State Epidemiologist of Estonia, Advisor in Epidemiology, Editor-in-Chief of EpiNorth Journal
Organization: Health Protection Inspectorate, Estonia
Specialization: Viral communicable diseases
Hobbies: Writing books for children
What are your responsibilities at the Health Protection Inspectorate?
Coordination of communicable disease surveillance, notification, outbreak/epidemic response, epidemic/pandemic preparedness planning and implementation of national immunization activities at national level.
What motivated you to devote yourself to infectious disease epidemiology?
Interest in virology and viral disease epidemiology.
Which of your professional achievements brings you the most satisfaction?
1) Development of national strategies and preparedness plans on control and mitigation of communicable diseases, 2) advisory activities for WHO and ECDC and 3) communication with the public and media.
What was your most difficult professional moment?
Keeping the national military forces safe, healthy and alive during my duty for the United Nations peacekeeping mission in South Lebanon.
What do you think are the most important achievements in infectious disease epidemiology so far?
Development of vaccines, international programmes to eliminate and control vaccine-preventable diseases, curbing emerging communicable diseases.
How did you start collaborating in EpiNorth project?
From the beginning in 1998 together with my outstanding Norwegian colleagues. The EpiNorth Bulletin/Journal was an initiative that led to the further activities resulting in the development of the up-to-date EpiNorth Project under umbrella and direction of the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.
What do you find the most interesting aspect of the EpiNorth project?
Most interesting is the complexity of the EpiNorth Project and involvement of active cooperating activities of epidemiologists from Nordic States, Baltic States and the Barents Region.
What do you consider the most important achievement of the EpiNorth project?
Keeping alive and further developing contacts between epidemiologists in the Nordic countries, Baltic states and Russia, and cooperation on the epidemiology of communicable diseases.
What is your favourite book and why?
My favourite book is “The Names on The Marble Plate” written by the Estonian writer Albert Kivikas. It is the story of high-school students fighting for the independence of their forefathers’ land.
Aside from your professional career, what is your greatest ambition in life?
To live in a world without wars and hate, in a free and independent country and love my family.
What would be your wishes for the younger colleagues in the field of epidemiology?
My dream is to develop a politically valued and respected public health system in my country. I believe this will be possible due to the great interest in the field of epidemiology exhibited by my young colleagues. I hope to inspire them to be an active part of the international family of epidemiologists and learn, learn and learn throughout life.