Fianna Fáil Senator Mary White has called on the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar TD, to extend the free BreastCheck service to women over 65 years of age.
Speaking in the Seanad this week, Senator White said: “Ageism remains an unacceptable prejudice in Irish society. Older people have a right to parity of esteem in their access to services and treatments, and care must be available on a needs and not age-basis.
“This Government is discriminating against women over the age of 64 by reneging on its promise to extend the Breastcheck screening programme. Despite the fact that the risk of cancer increases with age, the Health Minister has failed to provide funding to secure the roll out of these life-saving service to over 65s.
“In 2001, Professor Des O’Neill spoke to Irishhealth.com and said, ‘Women are at the highest risk of developing breast cancer between the ages of 55 and 75.’ The 2011 Programme for Government contained a commitment to extend Breastcheck screening to women aged 65-69 in 2014. This still has not happened.
“It is extremely important that this issue remains on the political agenda. For every 500 women screened, one life will be saved. Government inaction on this matter is costing lives. The Minister needs to honour his commitments,” concluded Senator White.