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When should Ministers stay quiet and let the experts speak?

The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly came in for some criticism recently when it was revealed that he asked Department of Health officials why he was not being mentioned in tweets from the Department’s feed. According to a story in The Irish Times in April, an analysis of the feed was completed for the Minister…

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Immunisation and global solidarity

Vaccines have dominated the news agenda recently for obvious reasons. But it can be easy to forget that Covid-19 is not the only threat to global health and that many other diseases require essential vaccination programmes to be kept under control. Nevertheless, the current pandemic has made it difficult for these programmes – which vaccinate…

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Public health agreement long overdue, but welcome

The IMO’s annual general meeting (AGM), held on 17 April, was unlike any other in the Organisation’s history. Instead of the opulent surroundings of the Europe Hotel in Killarney (to where the conference returned in 2018 due to popular demand), the AGM was held virtually. In addition to speeches and presentations, it featured video interviews…

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GPs not to blame for vaccination delays

Recently, on RTÉ radio’s Liveline, Co Limerick GP Dr Kieran Murphy said he would not be participating in the next phase of the roll-out of the national vaccination programme. A chief reason cited by Dr Murphy was the “intimidating” calls he and his staff had been receiving from people angry that they or their relatives…

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What do international comparisons of Covid-19 responses tell us?

HIQA’s recent international review of different ‘lockdown’ strategies contains an important caveat at the end.“Public health measures adopted by countries to limit the spread of Covid-19 are constantly changing,” according to the review on public health measures and strategies to limit the spread of Covid-19. “As such, the review may have missed relevant information that…

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Lack of independent bioethical advice is cause for concern

Amongst the multitude of challenges the Covid-19 crisis has posed society are issues of serious ethical concern. Early in the pandemic, the fear was that healthcare would be rationed due to hospital services being overwhelmed. This prompted the creation of documents to help inform ethical decision-making and, generally, to set out principles of care for…

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International travel and the pandemic

The link between international travel and the second wave of Covid-19 in Ireland has been made plain in new research. The study, which is the subject of a feature in this issue, was conducted by Prof Patrick Mallon, Professor of Microbial Diseases in the University College Dublin School of Medicine and Consultant in Infectious Diseases…

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Will a new model for public health become a reality?

In our last editorial, the question was posed as to whether the pandemic would result in a better resourced and funded health service. In response to Covid-19, the healthcare allocation was substantially increased in Budget 2021. Recently, the HSE published its National Service Plan detailing how this additional funding, which is €3.5 billion greater than…

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Will the pandemic result in a better resourced health service?

There is no part of the health service that has not been affected, either directly or indirectly, by Covid-19. In this issue of the Medical Independent, we take a look at how cancer services have managed over the past year. As with other clinical areas, oncology has suffered from a chronic lack of investment. This…

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Urgent questions about the devastation Covid-19 has caused in nursing homes

In January alone, 369 nursing home residents died as a result of Covid-19. This brought the overall number of Covid-19-related deaths in the sector to 1,543 people. Despite the introduction of the vaccination programme to nursing homes, this figure will continue to rise over the short-term at least.Speaking before the Joint Oireachtas health committee on…

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