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Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 191 - Medicinal products availability [Tobacco] [23632/17].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 191 - Medicinal products availability [Tobacco] [23632/17]. (18 May 2017)


191. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health if he will address a matter (details supplied) regarding asthma; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23632/17]


Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): The Programme for Partnership Government is directly relevant to the deputy’s question. It includes a commitment to significantly reduce the cost of medicines for all citizens. The reduction in the prescription charge for over 70's in Budget 2017 was an important measure in this regard. I will continue to examine other measures to deliver on this important commitment in future years, having regard to the funding available to facilitate such measures.


  The introduction of GP care without fees to children under 6 years of age also represents a major step forward in improving access, quality and affordability of health care in Ireland. The under-6s GP service contract, which includes age-based preventive checks focused on health and well-being and a cycle of care for children with asthma, underlines the Government’s commitment to enhancing primary care and keeping people well in their own community. Almost 364,000 children under 6 have access to GP care without fees through a medical card or GP visit card and over 31,200 children have been registered for the asthma cycle of care by their GPs as at 9th May 2017.


  On the issue of dealing with the threat from tobacco, Tobacco Free Ireland – the report of the Tobacco Policy Review Group – was endorsed by Government and published in October 2013. It builds on existing tobacco control policies and legislation already in place in this country, and sets a target for Ireland to be tobacco free (i.e. with a smoking prevalence rate of less than 5%) by 2025. The Government is committed to implementing Tobacco Free Ireland as outlined in the Programme for a Partnership Government. Some of the key achievements since the publication of Tobacco Free Ireland are:


  - the increase in price of tobacco products in Budgets 2014, 2015 and 2016;

  - the commencement of legislation which protects children from second hand smoke in cars;

  - the commencement of legislation to provide for standardised packaging of tobacco products;

  - the commencement of legislation to transpose the EU Tobacco Products Directive;

  - the commissioning and publication of the economic cost of smoking in Ireland report;

  - the publication of the Health Information and Quality Authority’s Health Technology Assessment of smoking cessation interventions;

  - the further development by the HSE of the QUIT campaign and the enhancement of supports for smokers who wish to stop smoking;

 - the commencement of a process to develop National Clinical Guidelines for smoking cessation between the HSE, the National Clinical Effectiveness Committee (NCEC) and other stakeholders;

  - the publication of research on tobacco including the potential impacts of standardised packaging;

  - the continued enforcement of tobacco control legislation by the HSE;

  - the continuation of an annual Healthy Ireland Survey, the Health Behaviour in School Children Study (HBSC) and the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD) which gives up-to-date reliable data on the prevalence of smoking throughout the whole population;

  - the engagement in the Healthy Ireland Framework to assist with changing social norms around smoking;

  - the involvement of the NGO sector in supporting Tobacco Free Ireland actions;

  - the approval of Government to proceed with drafting the General Scheme of a Bill to provide for the introduction of a licensing system and other measure for tobacco products and non-medicinal nicotine delivery systems , including electronic cigarettes; and

  - the engagement with the World Health Organisation in implementing the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

  These actions together with other past initiatives have resulted in a decrease in the prevalence of smoking in Ireland.


  Finally, the HSE has a National Clinical Programme for Asthma (NCPA). It is responsible for designing and specifying standardised models of care, guidelines, pathways and associated strategies for the delivery of integrated clinical care to improve quality, access and value. The overarching aim of the NCPA is to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with asthma in Ireland and to improve clinical outcomes and the quality of life of all patients with asthma.

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