The Ministry of Social Affairs has said it wants to close the National Institute for Health Development (TAI) next year.
The institute's press representative said that employees received a letter from the social ministry's secretary general Maarjo Mändmaa last week, telling them that the organization's tasks will be divided up between other agencies.
Mändmaa told news portal Delfi that the plan is indeed to give the tasks and people of TAI to other ministry divisions.
Closing TAI is part of a larger social ministry reform that also aims to merge the State Agency of Medicines and the Health Board.
Mändmaa, who is responsible for the successful execution of the reform, said that the aim is to render state systems more efficient.
"For example, we have the Health Board, TAI, Health Insurance Fund and the Labor Inspectorate all in charge of prevention efforts today. The ministry's interest is to bring activities together in a single place," he said.
Another problem is that fragmented agencies do not currently have enough money to realize plans, Mändmaa suggested.
He said that the ministry wants to map out all the work being done at the institute by late April to understand where different tasks could be moved.
The proposal to reorganize the work of TAI and merge the Health Board with the State Agency of Medicines should land on the Riigikogu agenda before the summer holidays season.
The ministry hopes to conclude the reform by early next year.
Director critical of ministry's plan
Head of the National Institute for Health Development (TAI) Annika Veimer was critical of the decision to close the institute, saying that it is based on no kind of analysis and that the work TAI pursues is necessary.
"The only content analysis that we know of is from 2016. Its conclusion was that it is sensible to retain TAI in its recent form and that the agency is performing its functions.
"The head of the Unemployment Insurance Fund Rain Laane has undertaken the ambitious plan of being responsible for health promotion in Estonia. This leaves the fund facing the choice of whether to perform its main task of improving availability of medical care and improving the efficiency of the healthcare system, or organize prevention using health insurance funds," Veimer said.
"We do not approve of moving the pieces [of the healthcare system] around based on trial and error in the hopes of it yielding something good. If the desire is to improve and streamline things, steps need to be carefully considered and discussed with those involved," she added.
Editor: Marcus Turovski