Jesse: Social ministry drops plan to dismantle TAI

Maris Jesse.
Maris Jesse. Source: Private collection

The Ministry of Social Affairs has abandoned its plan of handing the tasks of the Estonian Institute for Health Development (TAI) over to other agencies, Maris Jesse, adviser to Minister of Health and Labor Peep Peterson, said on the "Uudis+" radio program.

Jesse, who ran the institute in 2008-2016, said that the ministry's initial plan would have negatively impacted the field.

"The initial plan proposed in March to simply divide the tasks of TAI between different agencies would have led to serious setbacks in the development of the healthcare sector and in terms of our public health overview. But the plan has been dropped now," the former healthcare undersecretary said.

"Thinking back to my almost nine years at TAI, it convinced me of the benefits such a public health institute can have for the ministry," she added.

Jesse said that a meeting took place between Minister of Health and Labor Peep Peterson (SDE), Minister of Social Protection Signe Riisalo (Reform), Secretary General Maarjo Mändmaa and Deputy Secretary General for Healthcare Heidi Alasepp. "Minister Peterson can tell you how the plan will be taken forward," Jesse said.

The plan to close the institute and divide its tasks became public in March. The next stage would have seen the merger of the Health Board, State Agency of Medicines, TAI and the Labor Inspectorate into a single agency.

The initial plan would have seen the necessary amendments passed this fall and the new agency of 600 officials start work next year.

Heads of TAI have been extremely critical of the state reform, saying that the dissolution of the institute would seriously harm knowledge-based shaping of healthcare policy.

The reform plan culminated in a conflict between the heads of TAI and Secretary General Maarjo Mändmaa.

Adviser to minister post came unexpectedly

Talking about her new role as adviser to Peep Peterson, Jesse said that nothing of the sort crossed her mind as recently as last week.

"Life is full of surprises. When Peep Peterson asked me to join his team in the capacity of adviser, I agreed, looking at several concurrent crises and my experience from the Health Insurance Fund and TAI during two economic crises.

Jesse could not say what she plans to do in eight months' time when her term as Peterson's adviser ends.

"Right now, I am thinking about returning to the work I have been doing for the past year and did before taking the helm at TAI. Splitting my time between international work and Estonia," she said.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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