Kiik: It is more responsible for me to continue in office than to resign

Instead of resigning, it is right and responsible to continue as minister during the middle of the current crisis, said Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center) during an interview on Tuesday.

Speaking on ETV's interview program "Esimene stuudio" on Tuesday evening, Kiik said that after the failure of the Health Board's cold storage unit, which destroyed thousands of vaccines, he seriously considered resigning. He consulted with various people, but still considered it right and responsible to continue in office.

Presenter Andres Kuusk pointed out that Riigikogu member Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) compared the resignation of top officials, such as head of the Health Board Üllar Lanno, to the Hollywood film "Saving Private Ryan", but Kiik said his goal was not similar to the plot of the film.

"Urmas Reinsalu has always been a very theatrical politician and I think that such figures go for a so-called political game. But certainly, my goal has never been to hold onto a position or sacrifice other people," Kiik said.

The minister said the design and construction of the Health Board building were not adequate, and the government's real estate agency Riigi Kinnisvara AS and the Ministry of Finance must now make sure that similar accidents do not occur in the future.

Lanno responsible for own mistakes as well as those of others

"The head of the Health Board had a lot of responsibilities and certainly all of these things did not start during his term," Kiik said, adding the issues were passed on to Lanno when he started at the agency.

Lanno resigned after reviewing the case documents prepared by the Ministry's internal audit, Kiik said.

"His responsibility was that, when he took office, even before the vaccination process began, he would have had to delve deeper into the procedures, the tasks, the division of tasks, the legislation, the internal quality control, and these things," he said.

Kiik emphasized that he did not personally know about the problems in the cold storage unit before Midsummer's Day. However, a meeting was held on April 20, where the State Agency of Medicines pointed out some issues.

"I agree, this meeting was a time when one could have saved one or the other," Kiik said, but added that he did not participate in this meeting either. 

Cost of replacing damaged medicines to rise

Kiik said replacing the destroyed medicines could cost twice as much as when they were first bought.

"It is an absolutely depressing story," Kiik said. None of the vaccines that were being stored at the time of the temperature failure have been used.

Among other things, Kiik also spoke about the need to change the structure of the Health Board and the vaccination process in Estonia. 


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Editor: Helen Wright

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