With 8 months left until the Seimas elections, the new Health Minister's tenure may be short-lived, but Juras Požela, the successor nominated by prime minister Algirdas Butkevičius, says he intends to accomplish quite a bit during that short period.
Juras Požėla
© DELFI / Tomas Vinickas

When asked, in an interview with LRT, about having only 8 months to work before the elections, Požela said, “I'd say a whole 8 months rather than just 8 months. I have four fundamental priorities on my agenda. The first is a parliamentary and inter-party agreement on the future of our healthcare policies and on guidelines for our health policies.”

“The second thing would be a focus on innovations. Oncological patients currently receive drugs that were registered seven years ago. Until a drug becomes available for patients, so until it goes through the bureaucratic mechanism and until it becomes a compensated drug, 7 years usually pass. After 7 years, the rapid rate of technological advancement means there are new technologies available world-wide,” Požela continued.

“The third thing is prevention. We've spoken a lot, as have many ministers, about moving from a treatment to a prevention model, but we have some problematic points that depend on the lack of certain activities. It's shameful that we are first in tuberculosis diagnoses and that we have an unsolved tuberculosis treatment problem. We also see that half of all children don't even have their tuberculosis checks, which are mandated by law,” he said.

“The fourth thing that I think we should really make a fundamental push in is suicide rates. I've put a lot of hope into our non-governmental sector, into the people at our Youth Hotline, and the people at our Youth Psychological Help Centre...” Požela said, explaining his aims.

During the interview, Požela also underscored the importance of putting more emphasis on a psychological healthcare system that has been forgotten by the people responsible for it, according to critics.

Though former minister of health Rimantė Šalaševičiūtė resigned from her post due to corruption allegations, the Social Democratic Party she belongs to will still be responsible for naming a successor.This nomination is currently awaiting approval from president Dalia Grybauskaitė.

The prime minister named three advantages that Požela has for the job; he has shown a keen interest in the legislative projects worked on during his time at the Seimas Committee on Health Affairs, he has taken an interest in following how the Ministry of Health has made use of European support, and that he is an intelligent politician with an active interest in the healthcare field.

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