Birgit Lao appointed Health Board director

Birgit Lao.
Birgit Lao. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Birgit Lao has been appointed new Health Board (Terviseamet) director, ahead of its merger with the state medicines agency.

Lao will take up her post on May 2, while acting director Mari-Anne Härma will remain in the post until then, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Thursday.

Lao, who is the third person fully to hold the post since the coronavirus pandemic began in spring 2020, said that: "The Health Board has been going through a tough crisis period, and is as the same time facing a unique period relating to state reform."

"In this period of change and merger, I can be the manager who involves and brings together participants, so we can bring the best services to society and create an organization that can bring together the greatest strengths from the various fields," Lao continued.

"The Health Board's people are tired. I can ring the changes by leading wisely," she went on, putting the time-scale at the creation of a rejuvenated organization at between three and five years.

Lao added that whether there will be any job losses due to the forthcoming merger between the board and the State Agency of Medicines (Raviamet) will be clearer in April, adding that Covid served to make the situation less predictable.

Health minister Tanel Kiik (Center) said: "Birgit Lao has long-term experience in uniting organizations, implementing well-thought-out strategic innovations and successfully cooperating in very different fields, in order to achieve common goals.

"Her in-depth knowledge in the field of education and research surely supports the development and integration of health care services, as well as working for the health and strong living environment of the Estonian people," Kiik continued.

Lao joins the board on a five-year term, from the Innove Foundation, which merged with the Education and Youth Board (HARNO). In 2020. She worked at the education ministry 2006-2014, before joining Innove.

Lao's appointment follows the announcement of a competitive process starting last November after the resignation of Üllar Lanno, last September. Lanno replaced Merike Jürilo, in office when the pandemic began and who resigned in July 2020 after a political clash with the then-government.

From January 1 2023, the Health Board and the State Agency of Medicines are to be merged, in the interests of more effective healthcare management, the social affairs ministry says.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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