Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Ceisteanna (379, 418)

John Brady

Ceist:

379. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Health the status of plans to expand the newborn screening programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39606/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

James Browne

Ceist:

418. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Health the position regarding the extension of the newborn screening programme to cover40 illnesses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39842/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 379 and 418 together.

Currently all newborn babies (between 3 and 5 days old) are offered newborn bloodspot screening (generally known as the ‘heel prick’) through their parents/guardians for eight very rare conditions that are treatable if detected early in life.

A National Screening Committee is being established and will hold its first meeting before the end of 2019, as per recommendation 5, contained within the Scally Review (2018). The Committee’s role will be to undertake an independent assessment of the evidence for screening for a particular condition against internationally accepted criteria and make recommendations accordingly.

I appointed Professor Niall O’Higgins as Chair of the Committee in July and asked that, as part of its initial body of work, the Committee prioritise a review of the national newborn blood-spot screening programme and look specifically at how Ireland should best proceed with an expansion in line with international best practice.