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29 Iulie 2017
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Exclusive interview offered by the Romanian Prime Minister to Radio Romania Actualități

RRA Exclusive Interview: Prime Minister Mihai Tudose on Vaccine Law


Romanian Prime Minister Mihai Tudose. Photo:

Over 200,000 children aged nine months to nine years are non-immunized against measles, according to a recent report released by the Romanian Ministry of Health. The World Health Organization (WHO) has included Romania among the five countries that globally add over 80% of the number of measles diseases.

The Romanian Ministry of Health made a brief analysis of the National Vaccination Program, and identified a number of weaknesses, among which there are no stocks of vaccines for epidemic interventions. The Government intends to take measures to restart an effective production of vaccines at the “Cantacuzino” National Research Institute.

At the same time, the Executive is debating a project that aims to adjust the organization and financing of vaccination in Romania, as well as to raise parents' awareness in reference to the benefits of immunization, the safety and quality, but also the possible side effects. Romanian authorities and the Public Radio are conducting an information campaign on vaccination.

Dan Preda, Radio Romania Actualități (RRA), discussed this topic in an exclusive interview with the Romanian Prime Minister Mihai Tudose, special guest for the “Morning Call” (“Apel Matinal”) show.

Reporter: I am in the office of the Romanian Prime Minister, in Victoria Palace, and we talk about Healthcare problems, the outbreak of measles epidemic and, of course, about vaccines that can do and do not exist. Prime Minister, thank you for responding to our request and for inviting us here in the working room of the Head of the Government.

Mihai Tudose: Thank you very much for the fact that immediately after we’ve signaled  this serious problem Romania is now facing and after we’ve requested Minister of Health, Florian Bodog, to involve the Press in this awareness campaign, RADIO ROMANIA ACTUALITĂȚI was the first media channel that has instantly become part of this effort and has done wonderful things over the last few weeks, and for that I thank you.

Reporter: The whole RADIO ROMANIA broadcasting corporation was involved. We thank you in return for appreciating our input. But the signal you’ve mentioned was a very cruel one, if I may say so. 180,000 un-vaccinated children, over 18,000 cases with health problems in the last year and 32 deaths. An ugly balance. But the figures belong to you, and I think they were also found in the Health Minister's report, weren’t they?

Mihai Tudose: This is the tragic situation today. And I chose to make this report public and to tell the people what the figures are in order to be consistent with what I said when I took office: we are not fooling anybody, we do not lie to anyone, we do not want to be heroes, we want to be normal. And to be normal, we have to face reality, to know what we are dealing with, where we leave from and what is it that we want to solve.

Reporter: One of the reasons is sometimes the parents' refusal - and here you have had a very firm stance. Another cause is the lack of vaccines in various parts of the country. Both issues could be solved by a law that I understand is now on the table of the Government. What can you tell us?

Mihai Tudose: Yes, it was in the first reading, it does not solve all the problems.

Reporter: Why?

Mihai Tudose: Because, as you said yourself, it’s complicated. On the one hand, at one end of the problem lie disparities in the supply of vaccines. Then we found out that even when we had the vaccines, they didn’t reach in time in all places across the country. Then, when the vaccines arrived everywhere across the country, when they arrived, not everyone in the public health system was concerned enough about the children being vaccinated, and finally, here we have those irresponsible parents - and I assume the word - who, under various reasons or beliefs, considered that their children do not have to be vaccinated. So a Vaccine Law can start with providing the necessary supplies, as I told you and I assumed also as a Government project, but also as a personal project, by reinvigorating and reinventing, if you will, the “Cantacuzino” Institute, so that we can produce our own vaccines ...

Reporter: We'll talk about that too.

Mihai Tudose: ... then the vaccines have to be distributed, and doctors have to do their job properly. We cannot have counties with less than 50% of vaccinated children. This is absolutely incredible.

Reporter: Then I will be straightforward, because I have noticed and appreciated - why not say it? - that you have had very direct attitudes towards your colleagues in certain situations. So do you think that the current situation in Romania would require the introduction of compulsory vaccination?

Mihai Tudose: I think so. There are also vaccines that target transmissible diseases. So, that parent does not only endanger his child...

Reporter: But the whole community.

Mihai Tudose: ... but the whole community. On everything that means North Atlantic or European civilization, there must be over 95% of vaccinated children. Excuse me, when we have around 50%, we are far from the civilized world...

Reporter: Only in certain areas, not everywhere.

Mihai Tudose: No, I mention a country average. You've seen that, the report is public.

Reporter: Mr. Prime Minister, you have triggered a wave...

Mihai Tudose: Unfortunately...

Reporter: ... intense, almost unprecedented, linked to the situation of vaccination in Romania. Data, information, dismissals, resignations have occurred. Today you have only spoken about a few. You have obviously produced a shock, but that does not guarantee the mechanism works and will work at maximum. What other measures are you considering to increase this vaccine coverage rate of over 95%?

Mihai Tudose: We have waited a month, let's say, for measures taken only at soft calls. I’ve asked the Minister to start using the scalpel, that started, we saw, but if things will not work, then when we will go to the next stage we will get a bigger scalpel. We're going up the chain. We cannot afford to joke on something like that.

Reporter: When do you estimate this Vaccine Law will enter into force?

Mihai Tudose: It is a priority of the entire Government, I repeat – it is a priority, the sooner the better.

Reporter: We have a new manager at the ”Cantacuzino” Institute. That does not solve anything. But I’ve memorized your expression that you’ve used at the beginning of this discussion - to have a vaccine factory of our own, a functional “Cantacuzino” Institute. How, Prime Minister? How much would it cost and how long would it take?

Mihai Tudose: First of all, by nominating someone to head it. I understand that the costs are around 50 million euros, which at country level is not an amount to create problems..

Reporter: It's not a problem.

Mihai Tudose: It’s not a problem, on the contrary. The problem is that with this money, we cannot just buy a vaccine factory overnight. We have to go through some stages. The first stage, the appointment of a new manager, because I understand that the current team is somehow the author - with or without quotes - of the situation we are in now, or a contributor. I was expecting that on the very first day I would see them coming to the Government and saying they couldn’t find solutions and that they would need this and that. I didn’t find them there, on the contrary, you know I haven’t found anyone shouting on the subject.

Reporter: You know we, too, haven’t found anybody shouting, we’ve been trying to make up a story there and what we found was just a closed door. Prime Minister, at the opening of the Government meeting, I heard you saying that it just can’t be possible that certain foods arriving in Romania have a double standard. Do you think there could be a double standard in reference to vaccines as well?

Mihai Tudose: I want to believe this cannot be the case.

Reporter: Also at the beginning of this Government meeting you talked about bureaucracy in the system. Do you think you have any chances, Prime Minister, do you have the tools to unlock the system? It's a place where many broke their teeth.

Mihai Tudose: This is life, we try again. I'm trying. I have a good Dental Physician, I take the risk. We try to find our ways out from this paradigm, make things simpler, because we have complicated them over the last 27 years. Unfortunately, some measures that have been implemented to stop certain thefts from pharmacies, certain deals between doctors and pharmacists and patients, were taken because of two-three cases of pills thefts that made the whole country suffer. There are chronic illnesses where the chronic patient - that's why he is categorized as chronic, because the disease won’t cure, diabetes, for example - has to go to the doctor and pharmacist each month. A traumatic situation for the sick people, absolutely useless. Meanwhile, we also produce 10 tons of paper, roads, and bureaucracy, and eventually we contribute to them getting even sicker. This really has to stop.

Reporter: Thank you very much.

Mihai Tudose: Thank you also.

Transcription: RADOR.

Source:RRA. Translated by Miruna Matei


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