Written answers

Thursday, 5 March 2020

Photo of Louise O'ReillyLouise O'Reilly (Dublin Fingal, Sinn Fein)
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812. To ask the Minister for Health his plans to review the Changing Cardiovascular Health National Cardiovascular Health Policy 2010–2019; if a new cardiovascular plan will be developed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3584/20]

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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The National Review of Specialist Cardiac Services which convened in January 2018 is an independently chaired review of national clinical cardiac services. The aim of the National Review is to achieve optimal patient outcomes at a population level with particular emphasis on the safety, quality and sustainability of the services patients receive. Against the background of SlainteCare, the Review will recommend the optimal configuration of a national adult cardiac service in Ireland and it will in its deliberations review the status of recommendations contained within 'Changing Cardiovascular Health: National Cardiovascular Health Policy 2010-2019. It is anticipated that the National Review will be complete in Q2 2020.

Photo of Louise O'ReillyLouise O'Reilly (Dublin Fingal, Sinn Fein)
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813. To ask the Minister for Health the status of the implementation the actions of A Healthy Weight for Ireland: Obesity Policy and Action Plan 2016-2025; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3585/20]

Photo of Catherine ByrneCatherine Byrne (Dublin South Central, Fine Gael)
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‘A Healthy Weight for Ireland’, the Government’s Obesity Policy and Action Plan (OPAP), was launched in September 2016 under the auspices of the Healthy Ireland agenda.

The OPAP covers a ten year period up to 2025 and aims to reverse obesity trends, prevent health complications and reduce the overall burden for individuals, families, the health system, and the wider society and economy. It must be emphasised that every sector of our society has a role in reducing the burden of obesity and the OPAP clearly acknowledges this.

The OPAP prescribed 'Ten Steps Forward' that would be taken to prevent overweight and obesity. A new Obesity Policy Implementation Oversight Group (OPIOG) was established in October 2017 and a progress report on each recommendation in the OPAP is currently being finalised under the aegis of the OPIOG.

On establishment the OPIOG identified key early areas for action and established two sub-groups:

- The sub-group on Healthy Eating has as a priority output the development of Healthy Eating Guidelines for 1-5 year olds.  This work is well advanced and is expected to be completed in the first half of 2020.

- The sub-group on Reformulation has as its priority the setting of targets for food and drink reformulation and a “roadmap” for reformulation action to achieve those targets.  The submission of a report with the targets and roadmap is expected in the first half of 2020.

Achievements under the policy to date include:

- The Sugar-Sweetened Drinks Tax commenced on the 1st of May 2018.  The tax is charged at a rate of €16.26 per hectolitre for drinks with a sugar content of between 5 and 8 grams per 100ml and €24.39 per hectolitre for drinks with in excess of 8 grams per 100ml.

- A National Clinical Lead for Obesity was appointed in the HSE in 2017, with a focus on developing a clinical programme and model of care for treatment and management of obesity for children and adults, as well as on prevention by building into the Sláintecare reforms, through the Making Every Contact Count brief intervention programme and chronic disease management.

- A Healthy Eating, Active Living Programme has been established as a Policy Priority Programme within the HSE and a three-year plan for the programme is in place. The programme supports work in the education sector and works with parents, families and communities in delivering a more co-ordinated approach to prevention and early intervention in child obesity. 

- The GP contract for the provision of free care to children under 6 years provides for “health and wellness” checks at ages 2 and 5 which include weight and height monitoring.

- New Healthy Eating Guidelines, Food Pyramid and supporting resources were published, disseminated and communicated in 2017, including dissemination of the new Guidelines to all primary and post-primary schools.

- New Nutrition Standards for schools, with an initial focus on school meal programmes funded by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, were developed. Recently, additional standards for the meals provided under the hot school meals pilot have been developed and agreed.

- A Code of Practice for food and beverages promotion, marketing and sponsorship has been developed. From 2020, Ireland will be engaging in a major EU programme of work on this area.

- Under Healthy Ireland, the Department of Health, safefood and the HSE run a campaign called START which aims to inspire, empower and support parents to start building and persist with healthy lifestyle habits in the family to prevent childhood obesity.  This five-year campaign, launched in 2017, acknowledges that the solutions to tackling overweight and obesity are multiple and that every sector has a role to play. 

- Legislation is being prepared in relation to calorie posting for menus in restaurants, takeaways and other food outlets. Drafting of a General Scheme is expected to be finalised in the first half of 2020.


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