Tuesday, 12 June 2018
Department of Health
Health Care Policy
590. To ask the Minister for Health his plans to roll out a national scheme to allow children who do not need medical or surgical management to be examined in the community by optometrists; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24271/18]
592. To ask the Minister for Health the status of the development of a national women’s health action plan as committed to in the National Strategy for Women and Girls 2017-2020; the funding allocated to the development of the plan for 2018, 2019 and 2020; the projected timeline for its completion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24277/18]
The National Strategy for Women and Girls, 2017-2020 (NSWG) was published in April, 2017, and is the framework through which the Government is pursuing actions to advance the rights of women and girls, and to enable their full participation in Irish society.
Implementation is co-ordinated by the Department of Justice and Equality. The Department of Health was represented on the Strategy Committee that developed the NSWG, and is also represented on the Committee overseeing its implementation. which has met on three occasions since the NSWG launch, on 13th July and 26th September, 2017 and 25th January, 2018. A further meeting is scheduled for 13th June, 2018.
The Department of Health is principally involved with implementation of Objective Two of the NSWG; "Advance the Physical and Mental Health and Wellbeing of Women and Girls".
Action 2.1 of the NSWG commits to "Strengthen partnership work with the National Women's Council of Ireland (NWCI) in identifying and implementing key actions to address the particular physical and mental health needs of women and girls in order to advance the integration of their needs into existing and emerging health strategies, policies and programmes through an action plan for women's health".
Under this Action, the Department and the HSE are working with the NWCI, and, potentially, additional relevant organisations, including others in receipt of funding from the HSE, such that an advanced partnership approach can be developed to support the implementation of existing actions and needs outlined in the NSWG.
The Healthy Ireland Framework provides the over-arching context for progressing actions with regard to the health and wellbeing of women and girls. Healthy Ireland takes a whole of Government and whole of society approach to improving health and wellbeing, with a focus on prevention, reducing health inequalities and keeping people healthier for longer.
Within the context of Healthy Ireland, there are currently a number of issues where improvements in the health and wellbeing of women and girls could have significant impacts; these are set out in the NSWG.
These include improving awareness and supporting healthier choices in terms of smoking cessation, safer alcohol consumption, improving uptake of the HPV vaccine, increasing physical activity participation rates in younger women and improving rates of folic acid consumption and breast-feeding.
The Healthy Ireland approach is that many organisations have a role to play in achieving the goals of Healthy Ireland and in implementing the various strategies and plans under the Healthy Ireland aegis. Hence, the Department of Health and the HSE will continue to work in partnership with the NWCI and other relevant organisations, to support women and girls in improving their health and wellbeing.
The NWCI have been funded for work in the area of gender and health since 2011. This work has evolved to scope the development of the Women's Health Action Plan in partnership with the HSE in 2018. A number of engagement meetings have taken place in 2018 between representatives of the NWCI and the HSE in order to advance this work.
While the work is at an early stage of scoping, it is clear that there are a number of key programmes across the HSE which currently target and engage successfully on women's health; these include the Early Childhood Programme and the Tobacco Programme, the Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme, the Perinatal and Mental Health Programme and the Maternity and Infant Health Programme as well as significant work under the Primary Care and Social Inclusion areas.
The scoping work will include gathering existing data on women's health and commitments in existing policies that support women's health and wellbeing. This work is underway but is at an early stage.
The Department of Health will continue to support the HSE and NWCI in furthering their aims regarding women's health and in developing the Women's Health Action Plan.