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Minister could appoint next chief epidemiologist

03.12.2021 - 15:38
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 Mynd: RÚV - Samsett
The Ministry of Health is proposing that the chief epidemiologist of Iceland should in future be appointed by the health minister instead of by the Directorate of Health. The ministry also proposes that an epidemiology committee be set up to take on some of the responsibility for making proposals for disease prevention public health measures from the chief epidemiologist.

These are two of the proposals for a draft bill on changes to the infectious diseases law that is open for public consultation on the Samráðsgátt website. 

Clearer rules 

The project also proposes changing the order and division of infectious diseases laws to make the rules more accessible and clearer. One part of the bill relates specifically to the responsibilities of plane and ship operators during times of infectious outbreaks that would take over from a current temporary provision in the aviation law. 

The health minister has appointed a working group to write a draft bill that is expected to return to him by 1st February. The working group includes members from the health ministry, the justice ministry, the capital region healthcare provider, the Directorate of Health, the chief epidemiologist’s office, the epidemiology council, Landspítali hospital, and the state police. 

The working group does not believe the existing laws are inadequate in fighting epidemics, but that it would be good to clarify the decision-making process when public infection aversion rules are decided. 

“It is also right to clarify the position of the chief epidemiologist within the government system, including that the epidemiologist has the required independence from other agencies and that the epidemiologist is appointed by the minister.” 

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Alexander Elliott
Fréttastofa RÚV