Home > Joint Committee on Health debate. Update on Sláintecare.

[Oireachtas] Joint Committee on Health debate. Update on Sláintecare. (14 Oct 2020)

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…..Senator Frances Black - I have a specific question relating to alcohol harm in this country. There is no doubt that Ireland has one of the highest levels of alcohol-related harm in Europe. If one looks at the evidence, three people a day die from an alcohol-related issue. Alcohol problems in Ireland are rated third, following heart disease and cancer. Alcohol is a factor in half of all suicides each day and 1,500 hospital beds are taken up with alcohol-related problems. Moreover, it costs the Exchequer €1.5 billion. We now know that breast cancer is related to moderate drinking among women and it is also a known cause of seven types of cancer. With regard to Sláintecare, will there be a comprehensive treatment strategy with fully resourced systems and services to arrest the rate of premature deaths and to reduce the impact of alcohol-related harm throughout Irish society? That is not even taking into consideration the impact on families of alcohol harm with regard to mental health, stress and anxiety. I work at the coalface on this issue with families and I see its impact every day. I believe that if we can get to the families and provide services to them in respect of interventions, we can break the cycle of addiction. What comprehensive treatment strategy is in Sláintecare with regard to alcohol harm? 

Ms Laura Magahy - It is a key part of the Healthy Ireland pillar. Healthy Ireland is about prevention and self-care and the three big-ticket items under that pillar are obesity, smoking and alcohol prevention. There are comprehensive plans in place that are rolled out through NGOs, local authorities, the HSE and GPs. There is recognition that alcohol causes huge harm and has a knock-on effect on ongoing care, not to mention the devastation it causes to families. There is both recognition and funding in the budget to deal with the issue. I do not have the figure to hand but I can get it for the Senator later.

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