Alternate Minister of Health, Ministry of Health, Greece
Eirini Agapidaki is a Psychologist, with an MSc in Health Promotion and Education from the Medical School of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens; and a PhD in Health Psychology from the same university. She has also been specialized in matters of prevention of mental disorders and promotion of mental health. In addition, she has many years of teaching and research experience in the fields of public health policy, public health research methodology and mental health promotion – in the context of national, European and international research programs. She has worked for many years as a research associate at the Department of Hygiene, Epidemiology and Medical Statistics, of the Medical School of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. In the recent years she was elected and served as a Lecturer in Public Health, at the Medical School of the European University of Cyprus. She has written and published research papers in peer- reviewed scientific journals, while she has presented the results of her research papers at many national and international conferences.
In 2019, she resigned from her academic role in order to take up her duties as the Special Secretary for the Protection of Unaccompanied Minors (at the Ministry of Migration and Asylum) where she remained until 2022. During her tenure at the Special Secretariat for Unaccompanied Minors all the unaccompanied minors were transferred from the reception and identification centers of the islands and Evros (more than 2.000 children in total) in suitable accommodation structures in the mainland and in other Member-States of the EU through the relocation program and the reunification process. Also, the framework for the age assessment improved significantly, to properly ensure that those placed in child-protection structures are indeed minors; protective custody was abolished by law – a shameful practice that Greece had been following for twenty years with condemnations from the European Court and strict recommendations from the Council of Europe. Additionally, the National Emergency Response Mechanism for the Protection of Unaccompanied Minors for early locating and hosting unaccompanied minors who are found homeless throughout the territory, was established. This mechanism is an important instrument for preventing the disappearance of minors and is something that our country should have implemented years ago. Likewise, the places in suitable long-term accommodation facilities increased and thus we finally managed to have 2.000 places in such structures; a goal that our country already had in 2017. Last but not least, the relocation program for unaccompanied minors to other EU Member-States was implemented in cooperation with International Organizations and the European Commission, immediately ensuring effective protection (more than 1.300 unaccompanied minors and 1.400 persons were relocated – of which 620 were seriously ill children that moved to Germany together with their nuclear family members). Thus, from the over 5.500 unaccompanied minors recorded in our country in 2019, we now have a stable number that does not exceed 2.500, ensuring effective protection ecosystem.
At the end of December 2022, she assumed her duties as Secretary General of Public Health, implementing, among other things: the pediatric digital child book, so that our country can finally have for the first time official and reliable data on the vaccination coverage of children; while at the same time extensive vaccinations were organized and implemented in vulnerable population groups. In addition, the new plan called “Spyros Doxiades” was developed for the prevention, protection and health promotion of the main chronic diseases – which includes over 20 actions of primary, secondary and tertiary prevention, with a budget of over 300 million euros. This is actually the first time in the history of our country, that an organized and systematic prevention system for the entire population is being implemented. Indicatively, the actions concern prevention programs of the main risk factors; such as the prevention and fight against childhood obesity in children and adults. At the level of secondary prevention, the “Fofi Gennimata” program is already being implemented, thanks to which more than 120.000 digital mammograms have already been performed and more than 7.500 women have been identified in time with findings. Next is: the cervical cancer prevention program (for 2.5 million women aged 21-65 with free screening tests-pap, HPV-DNA test, colposcopy and biopsy), the colon cancer prevention program (for 3.8 million men and women, aged 50-70 with a free colonoscopy examination), the cardiovascular disease prevention program (for 5.5 million women and men aged 30-70 with free lipid profile blood tests and early detection of cardiovascular disease risk and metabolic syndrome), but also the lung cancer prevention program in people at high risk, as well as the skin cancer prevention program in high-risk groups.