Dé Céadaoin, Aibreán 29, 2009

éirígí claim administration playing with Donegal women’s lives by further delay in BreastCheck

Tír Chonaill éirígí activist Micheál Cholm MacGiolla Easbuig has accused the Fianna Fáil-led administration of “playing with the lives of women” following revelations that the BreastCheck screening programme, which was due to be rolled out in Donegal before the end of the year, is now to be delayed yet again.

He was speaking following a meeting in Dublin between Donegal cancer campaigners and the CEO of BreastCheck Tony O’Brien. Mr O’Brien informed campaigners that, due to the public sector recruitment freeze in the Twenty-Six Counties, they would be unable to proceed with the roll-out of BreastCheck in Donegal by the end of this year as planned.

MacGiolla Easbuig said: “The continued denial of this potentially life saving service to the women of County Donegal is scandalous. The BreastCheck programme commenced eight-years-ago. To date, the programme has been rolled out throughout the vast majority of the state, yet, despite repeated promises, women in Donegal continue to be denied access to what is an extremely valuable and potentially life saving service.”

He added: “As far back as March 3, 2003, the then health minister Micháel Martin announced that BreastCheck would be in place and operating in Donegal by September 2005 at the very latest. In December 2006, Mary Harney stated that screening would begin by the spring of 2007. The latest promise was that it would be rolled out by the end of this year. That promise has now also been broken as a direct result of cutbacks, specifically the recruitment freeze in the public sector.

“Breast cancer is the single biggest cause of death from cancer for women. Every year, more than 600 women die from the disease, while more than 2,000 others are diagnosed with it. The reality is that, in the vast majority of cases, the early detection of breast cancer makes the chances of a full recovery extremely likely, while also making the entire treatment and recovery process far less traumatic for the patient involved.

“According to the All-Ireland Cancer Statistics 1998-2000, between the years 1994 and 2000, mortality rates from breast cancer fell by more than 20 per cent in the Six Counties where screening programmes were well established, while, in the Twenty-Six County state, where no screening programme had yet been established, mortality figures remained the same in 2000 as they were in 1994.”
MacGiolla Easbuig concluded: “By continuing to deny women in Donegal access to a proper screening service which is available throughout most other counties, this administration is playing with people’s lives. The simple facts are that women in Donegal will die unnecessarily from breast cancer as a direct result of this administration’s policy. There is no excuse for any further delay and the Dublin government needs to begin the immediate roll out of the BreastCheck programme for women in Donegal.”

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