A Tribute to John Ryan, Former DG SANTE Deputy Director General

05 February 2024

It is with great sadness that the European Cancer Organisation has learned of the recent passing of John Ryan, the former deputy general at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety. Our condolences go out to all those who knew John.

John built a rich legacy in EU initiatives to boost health cooperation across countries. He guided to completion many significant pieces of pan-European legislation to improve prevention of non-communicable diseases. For more than twenty years he helped increase EU tobacco control measures and raised policy attention to stubborn health inequalities between and within countries. In recent years, he dedicated enormous energy to ensuring a strong EU response during the Covid-19 pandemic and the creation of Europe’s first Beating Cancer Plan.

Csaba Dégi, president of the European Cancer Organisation, said:

‘John was a familiar and welcoming face to all of us working in EU health policy. The recent sad news of his passing is hitting us all as we lose one of the great friends – and implementers – of EU health cooperation.

‘We want to pay special tribute for the open door he always kept for stakeholders to share perspectives, ideas and recommendations, as well as his encouragement for cooperation across disease areas. His creation of the Health Policy Platform is a testament to that philosophy. As we look ahead, and the important work still to be achieved in fields such as disease prevention policy, I hope the health community and EU institutions can take inspiration from John Ryan’s dedication to these matters, and bring about new progress in the near future.’

European Commissioner Stella Kyriakides has shared her condolences to John’s friends and family:

‘He was central to our COVID-19 response, to many of the Health Union initiatives, and to the development and implementation of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan.

‘His memory and his contribution will be cherished.’

*Photo courtesy of the European Commission