Italy’s vaccine-sceptic M5S Government sacks entire board of health experts

The health minister dismissed the panel of 30 top medical experts without warning.

Italian health minister Giulia Grillo has unexpectedly sacked every member of the Higher Health Council, the committee of medical experts chosen to advise the government on health policy.

Grillo, from the populist Five Star Movement, wrote on Facebook that it was “time to give space to the new” after sacking the 30 board members unexpectedly with a formal letter yesterday.

“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,” she wrote.

The Five Star Movement (M5S) is well known for its low regard for expert opinions, which is particularly worrying for medical professionals as the party has a track record of supporting unfounded claims.

The party was a vocal supporter of Stamina, a controversial stem-cell therapy promoted by a now-disgraced psychologist. It was later proven to be a scam.

M5S has also been heavily criticised for its role in raising doubts over the efficacy of vaccinations. A law proposal put forward by the party in 2014 called for “better information and possible denial of administering vaccinations” and cited the debunked studies.

Italy was one of the countries where discredited claims of a link between the combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination and autism had a significant impact on public perceptions of the safety of the jab.

Since taking office, Grillo has caused widespread confusion by making several U-turns on the government’s mandatory child vaccine policy.