The Government has done a significant disservice to the Irish health system by failing to send a single representative to the first WHO Ministerial Conference on Dementia, according to Fianna Fáil’s Spokesperson on Disability, Mental Health and Special Needs Colm Keaveney TD.

“For the first time, Health Ministers from across the world gathered in Geneva this week to share research, policies and best practise on dealing with the increasing prevalence of dementia in our aging population.  Ireland lost out significantly by failing to send a single representative to what would have been an extremely useful event,” said Deputy Keaveney.

“The fact that the Health Minister Leo Varadkar and the Minister of State Kathleen Lynch didn’t think it was important enough to attend themselves, or to even send a government representative, exposes the skewed priorities of this coalition.  Ireland has missed hearing from experts about how to reduce the socio-economic burden created by Alzheimer’s and dementia, and we have missed out on getting vital information about the latest treatments, value for money practices and supports for people living with dementia.

“This is further evidence of a government that prioritises spin over real action with lasting consequences.  It’s just three months since the National Dementia Strategy was published.  If this was more than just a PR stunt, the Government would have followed through and attended this week’s conference.  Instead, people with chronic illnesses and disabilities are being side-lined.  While Ministers trip over themselves to talk up economic recovery, people living with serious illnesses and disabilities have yet to see any benefits of this recovery. 

“The long-term benefits of the information and connections made at this WHO Dementia Conference could have been long-lasting, not just for sufferers of dementia but also for the health system as a whole and for our economy.  While other countries learn from best value-for-money practices, Ireland is left behind.”