Director General of the Health Board (Terviseamet) Üllar Lanno said on Monday that he will resign from his position. Lanno said he is resigning of his own volition to take responsibility for the incident at the Health Board's cold storage units.
Lanno will continue in his position for two more weeks and then Mari-Anne Härma, deputy director general, will temporarily take over the management of the agency until a new head is found.
"After this stormy year, I have submitted my resignation to the minister of health and labor this morning," Lanno said at a press conference on Monday.
Lanno has been under strong public pressure after an incident with the agency's cold storage units which destroyed at least 100,000 of vaccines, including coronavirus vaccines, over Midsummer in June.
Asked if he is taking responsibility for the cold store incident Lanno said the agency is led by a single person.
"No one but the director can take the responsibility," Lanno said. "This [resignation] was my initiative. There is no reason to look for anyone else," he said.
Lanno said that the problems that emerged at the Health Board had been a combination of unfavorable circumstances.
He added that he had also weighed stepping back from his position earlier.
"I sensed that the time has come," he said, adding that in the event of a crisis, one can fight, run away or play dead. Lanno said that the new secretary general and deputy secretary general who have begun work at the Ministry of Social Affairs have had time to familiarize themselves with the situation and that the Health Board, too, has become stronger due to structural changes.
Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center) acknowledged that Lanno had decided to take over the management of the Health Board in the middle of a crisis. Lanno will not receive severance pay, Kiik said.
Kiik commended Lanno for his decision to take responsibility at a time of crisis and for his work during this time as well as for his decision to step down.
The minister pointed out that a report by the secretary of state has revealed that the root cause of the problem emerged much earlier, and that the Health Board's warehouses did not meet requirements already at the time when Lanno became the agency's director general. Kiik said that the current management is only at fault for failing to identify and transform previous managements' norms and course of action.
Kiik said that the Health Board's new director general will be able to make a new start. The new director general will need to establish a quality management system and review the long-term role of the Health Board in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Affairs and the State Agency of Medicines.
Lanno has been head of the agency for less than a year after taking office on October 1, 2020.
Editor: Helen Wright