The next European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety is Lithuanian health minister (updated)

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, announced the composition of the new College of European Commissioners. Mr Vytenis Andriukaitis, former Health Minister of Lithuania, was designated as new European Commissioner for the Health Policy and Food Safety portfolio.

“Former minister Andriukaitis is the person that really not in the words but in real actions understands and supports public health and especially tobacco and alcohol control measures,” told NordAN´s Lithuanian board member Aurelijus Veryga. “He did tremendous work in finalization of EU Tobacco products directive process and showed personal leadership and diplomacy during negotiation process. I am very happy that Vytenis Adnriukaitis will be responsible for health and food safety at EU level. This makes me more optimistic about possible development and transparency in this field in EU. I hope that he will continue dialog with NGO’s working in the public health field and we will see positive public health developments in the EU in the very near future. I wish him all the best.”

Nomination of Mr Andriukaitis has found positive feedback also from the European public health organisations. “The European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) would like to congratulate Mr Vytenis Andriukaitis for the designation and express its commitment to working with him to ensure that European policy makers champion the health of people living in Europe.”

“EPHA calls for leadership, courage and commitment from Mr Vytenis Andriukaitis to champion health for everyone. In particular, we would like to see firm promotion of health and well-being in all policy areas of the EU. Mr Andriukaitis also needs a clear mandate to support minimum unit pricing to curb harmful use of alcohol, initiatives to address discrimination, an upgraded defence of child health, the promotion of public health in the common agriculture policy (CAP), a strong, well-qualified health workforce and a pharmaceutical policy based on the public interest. To achieve these objectives, EPHA would like to express its support for promoting better Health Impact Assessments and a Health in All Policies Approach to policymaking,” EPHA states.

Mr Andriukaitis spoke at the EPHA annual conference last week where he stressed that “health is not a consequence of growth but also a condition for growth. Investments in public health increase productivity and boost job creation. Health should not only be seen as product of growth: health encourages growth.

A year ago in October 2013 then Lithuanian health minister Andriukaitis proposed and registered new amendments to the Law on Alcohol Control, which would impose much stricter limits for alcohol advertising. These amendments were meant to ban all outdoor advertising as well as advertising in print media and internet. As the plan was strongly opposed by the industry NordAN sent a support letter to minister Andriukaitis and Government of Lithuania.

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