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Socialist MEP to file report over government ‘withholding’ data of public interest

Istvan Ujhelyi, an MEP of the opposition Socialists, has said he would file a criminal report over the human resources ministry's blocking of the release of data of public interest on health-care measures regarding the pandemic and other government-funded programmes.

Noting that the ministry had rejected his request to access to the country’s national cancer programme, Ujhelyi said “the Fidesz government has made it a regular practice to reject publishing information of public interest.”

The ministry had earlier denied access to government data on coronavirus protection measures, vaccinations and the purchase of Covid vaccines, he told an online press conference.

“The EU is currently in the process of drafting the community’s cancer prevention strategy. Related elements that are important to Hungarians can only be successfully incorporated into that strategy if the relevant government documents can be accessed,” Ujhelyi, a member of the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, said.

He accused the government of denying access because a “national cancer strategy does not exist”. Last year, 2.7 million people were diagnosed with cancer in the EU, 1.3 million of whom died, Ujhelyi noted, highlighting the importance of taking urgent steps. Otherwise, “the number of cancer cases is expected to go up by 24 percent by 2035,” he said.

Hungary has one of the highest cancer-related death rates in Europe, Ujhelyi said, noting that 336 out of 100,000 Hungarian patients die of cancer while the figure in Austria is 234 and in Belgium 230.

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