Italy’s health minister has sacked the entire board of the Higher Health Council, the country’s most important committee of technical-scientific experts who advise the government on health policy.
In a move on Monday night that shocked Italian scientists, Giulia Grillo, from the Five Star Movement – a vaccine-sceptic party that has supported unproven cures for cancer – said it was “time to give space to the new”.
The decision will mean the replacement of 30 board members the president, Roberta Siliquini, the head of the school of hygiene and preventive medicine at the University of Turin who was nominated in December 2017 by the former health minister Beatrice Lorenzin.
Siliquini told the Guardian that the move was concerning. “We are worried about why they have decided to remove people who were selected due to their experience and competencies at the highest level,” she said. “We are also worried about who will make up the next council and especially if the nominations are politically motivated.”
Other distinguished experts on the board include the geneticists Giuseppe Novelli and Bruno Dallapiccola, and pathologist Napoleone Ferrara. The members are nominated every three years and it is unusual for their mandates to be cut short.