Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Incidence of Venereal Diseases.

15.

asked the Minister for Health if he is aware of the increase in venereal diseases over the past three years; what the incidence of these diseases is in the Dublin area; and if he has any evidence to show a relationship between this increase and the increase in drug addiction.

I am aware of the increase in the number of new cases of venereal disease undergoing treatment by health authorities over the past three years. The number of such cases treated by Dublin Health Authority for the years 1966, 1967 and 1968 were—163, 242 and 404 respectively.

I have no information to suggest that the increase in the numbers undergoing treatment is connected with drug addiction.

The matter is at present under review in my Department.

Is the Minister aware that the chief medical officer's report for 1968 shows there is a far higher incidence of new cases of venereal disease among the male section of the population of the Dublin area than amongst the female section? It is possible to derive from that report that there is a pool source of infection amongst females which could possibly be related to those in the profession, namely, the prostitutes, operating in the Dublin Health Authority area. Would the Minister consider compulsory examination of any lady of ill-repute who is arrested by the Garda Síochána to determine whether or not she has one of these contagious diseases?

This is a matter of very grave import. A great number of issues are involved, including the Deputy's suggestion of court proceedings. This country has the lowest incidence of venereal diseases of all countries in Northern Europe. It would be impossible for me to reply to the Deputy's question, apart from telling him that the matter is under review. I can also tell him that we have ample facilities for the treatment of those suffering from those hideous diseases. They can get free treatment. The diseases are notifiable. More than that I do not propose to say.