The Cypriot Commissioner-designate charged with managing the EU’s Health Portfolio, Stella Kyriakides, a trained clinical psychologist and cancer survivor, spent three hours on 1 October laying out why her strategy for a new research and prevention programme for the European Union’s health strategy which, should she be confirmed, would be implemented on her watch.
Kyriakides asked for increased controls on detection and prevention of food fraud, biosecurity on farms and investment in research of vaccines. Boosting vaccination rates, dealing with drug shortages, and increasing health literacy across the 28-member bloc
Among Kyriakides main tasks, as laid out in her letter of appointment, are ensuring Europe has an adequate supply of affordable medicines, applying e-health to reduce social inequalities in health, helping the European pharmaceutical industry remain a world leader.
Her five-year programme also calls for the provision of incentives to develop new antibiotics that will combat antimicrobial resistance, the formation of a holistic medicine strategy that will address the safety of pharmaceutical ingredients originating from third countries, and advocating for an international agreement to fight cancer.
When asked about the future of digitalisation for health care, Kyriakides suggested the creation of a European health database. She also pledged her support to push through the Commission’s 2018 proposal for a health technology assessment, which is currently stuck in the European Council due to the objections of some of the bloc’s members.
MEPs tested the health nominee on a range of public health and food safety issues, covering fertiliser use, vaccine scepticism, and antimicrobial resistance.
Kyriakides is likely to be confirmed for the key position, which has been a source of concern in Brussels as some MEPs have questioned whether the incoming Commission would diminish the EU’s health policy. Having Kyriakides onboard has, for the most part, allayed those fears. If confirmed, she will take the reins of the health job from Lithuania’s Vytenis Andriukaitis on 1 November.