Written Answers. - Motor Neurone Disease.

Frank Crowley

Ceist:

122 Mr. Crowley asked the Minister for Health the degree to which research is currently being done into motor neurone disease; the degree to which assistance for research in this area is available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [996/94]

Michael Creed

Ceist:

164 Mr. Creed asked the Minister for Health the total number of cases of motor neurone disease; the number of deaths from this disease so far in this country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [995/94]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 122 and 164 together.

The Health Research Board is the main mechanism through which State funding is channelled to medical and related research. The board is not, at present, carrying out any research into motor neurone disease. However, I would point out that the board has an open invitation policy regarding applications for research funding and allocates its resources annually according to the priorities it attaches to the various requests received.
I understand that the Motor Neurone Disease Association has sponsored research in this area and is awaiting at the end of this year the results of a two-year research programme. My Department has grant-aided the association for the past three years. The level of funding was increased from £16,000 in 1993 to £25,000 in 1994.
Although there are no specific records regarding the incidence of motor neurone disease, medical research shows that it affects approximately 1 in 50,000 people. It is estimated that approximately 250 people are affected at any one time in Ireland.
Numbers of deaths by cause are collated by the Central Statistics Office. Numbers of deaths from motor neurone disease since 1980 are compiled in a tabular statement which I will arrange to have circulated in the Official Report.
Number of Deaths from Motor Neurone Disease 1980-1993

Year

Number

1980

56

1981

43

1982

42

1983

45

1984

45

1985

73

1986

68

1987

74

1988

56

1989

54

1990

53

1991*

44

1992*

73

1993*

74

*These figures are provisional.