The vaccine-skeptic Italian government has sacked every member of the country’s health advisory board, raising fears that the populist administration will sideline accepted science and inflict long-lasting damage on public health.
Health minister Giulia Grillo removed all 30 members of the Higher Health Council Monday, arguing it is time to “give space to the new,” The Guardian reported.
The council is the country’s most prominent body of technical-scientific experts, who advise the government on health policy.
Grillo is a member of the Five Star Movement (MS5)—the senior party in Italy’s ruling coalition, which has previously supported unproven cures for cancer and promised to overturn laws making vaccines mandatory for children.
Explaining her decision, Grillo wrote on Facebook, “We are the #governmentofchange and, as I have already done with the appointments of the various organs and committees of the ministry, I have chosen to open the door to other deserving personalities.”
Among those removed from their posts is former council president, Roberta Siliquini, who also serves as the head of the school of hygiene and preventive medicine at the University of Turin.
Siliquini told The Guardian: “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 added, “We are also worried about who will make up the next council and especially if the nominations are politically motivated.”