Call for centres of excellence for Alzheimer's patients

Fri, Jun 11, 2010, 01:00

THE PROVISION of centres for people suffering from Alzheimer’s was called for by Fianna Fáil TD Mary O’Rourke.

She suggested that the model of centres of excellence for cancer patients be extended to other areas of ill-health among the population.

“There is a case to be made now for the road of the Alzheimer agenda to be travelled and to have centres where the finest research can be undertaken,” she added.

Ms O’Rourke, who was speaking during the resumed debate on the Health Miscellaneous Provisions Bill, said there was no doubt that Alzheimer’s was a complaint which was widespread and terrifying in its implications.

“In a way it is terrifying, not so much for the patients, but for those who mind them, as cancer was in its horrific impact on people.”

Ms O’Rourke commended Fine Gael TD Michael Noonan who had spoken on the RTÉ television programme Frontline about his wife, who suffers from the illness.

“He spoke so feelingly that he unlocked a well of feeling and support towards that complaint and towards anything that could be done to address it.”

Alzheimer’s was pervasive and she did not know, she said, what it was called long ago.

“One cannot lift up a newspaper at the weekend but find a snippet about new research into Alzheimer’s and how it could, hopefully, have an effect in time on the work of those who work for and with people with the complaint as they travel onwards in life.”

Michael Creed (Fine Gael) said there was a growing need for facilities to care for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Jimmy Deenihan (FG) said that while cancer services had improved considerably, they were not comparable with Northern Ireland, the rest of Europe and elsewhere in the developed world, including north America and Canada.

It was critical, he added, that once people were diagnosed with cancer, they received treatment without delay. “Unfortunately, however, that is not the case even for patients with private health insurance. Lives have been lost because people have not been diagnosed and treated in time.”

The value of screening and early detection was that they helped to save lives. People should be encouraged to monitor their health on an ongoing basis and have check-ups every six months or annually.

“Sometimes people do not recognise or act upon cancer symptoms, diabetes or other diseases,” Mr Deenihan said. “Early detection is vital in all such cases.”

Ireland, he added, was on a par with Europe and the United States in terms of survival rates for children diagnosed with cancer.

“We have made remarkable progress in this area and young children’s lives have been saved as a consequence of early intervention and treatment.”