Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD has published the Healthy Ireland Strategic Action Plan 2021-2025.

A core component of the implementation of Sláintecare, this Healthy Ireland Strategy will have a particular emphasis on reducing inequalities. It will involve a comprehensive cross-government approach, with a total of 14 Government Departments responsible for implementing actions for the next 5 years.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: “I’m delighted to be publishing the Healthy Ireland strategic action plan today. Improving and supporting the health and wellbeing of the people of Ireland is central to the work of government.  We are thankfully beginning to slowly emerge from the pandemic and we know more than ever before that people have a greater focus on their health, and an understanding of their overall sense of wellbeing and how it can be impacted so greatly.

“Healthy Ireland gives us a vision of how we as a society can work together to bring about a Healthier Ireland where everyone, can enjoy physical and mental, health and wellbeing, to their full potential. We will be placing a special emphasis on health inequalities in this plan and making sure that all people   are ultimately enabled and empowered to live healthier lives. We will make sure to reach everyone, and that no one is left behind.”

The Healthy Ireland Strategic Action Plan builds on the success of the Healthy Ireland Framework, which was published in 2013. The Strategic Action Plan contains 56 actions across six themes which will be implemented over the next five years. Each action has a lead government department from across fourteen separate Government Departments. In the first seven years of implementation, Healthy Ireland through its partnerships has built cross-society foundations which will help it deliver into the future.

Minister Donnelly said: “Healthy Ireland is a core part of the implementation of Sláintecare in particular on keeping people well in their own homes and communities, and helping people to stay out of hospital for as long as possible. Since the publication of the Healthy Ireland Framework 7 years ago, significant progress has been made to implement our vision where everyone can enjoy physical and mental health and wellbeing to their full potential. 

“National policies and strategies have been developed and are being implemented across a range of health behaviours that impact the health and wellbeing of our people, including physical activity, obesity, smoking, alcohol, sexual health and skin cancer.  All this work has set very strong foundations on which to build for the next five years.

“We know that health and wellbeing is not evenly distributed across the population with our most deprived communities bearing a higher burden of chronic disease with increased levels of mortality.  I am especially pleased that this plan aims to directly begin to address those communities most impacted by the social determinants of health through the inclusion of a new Sláintecare Healthy Communities programme, working in particular with Local Authorities, other government departments, NGOs, and the HSE to tackle health inequalities.”

Partnership is the cornerstone of Healthy Ireland. COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of bringing together key players and stakeholders, to work together to a common goal, both at a local and a national level. This next phase of Healthy Ireland will build on these partnerships.

 Among some of the targets for the next 3 years Healthy Ireland will aim to deliver are:

  • Implementation of a healthy campus programme in 30 third level institutions.
  • Help 4500 people to live in their own home with dignity and independence through the Sláintecare age-friendly healthy homes scheme.
  • Develop new policies and action plans addressing sexual health, physical activity, nutrition, obesity and mental health promotion.
  • Add 500 more clubs to the GAA health clubs model, as well as drive participation amongst other sporting organisations.
  • By 2022 develop 18 Sláintecare healthy communities in disadvantaged areas 

The ongoing implementation of Healthy Ireland is a key action under Sláintecare. Prevention of illness, in addition to supporting people to live healthier lives, is also a vital element in reducing the demand for hospital services and improving quality of life.