Health Board: upcoming conferences, talks, campaigns and events

1) National Bike Week will be held from Saturday, June 9th to Sunday, June 17th. Highlights include family cycling festivals in Cabinteely Park on Saturday, June 16th and in St Anne's Park, Raheny, Dublin the following day.

Launched in 2009 to raise the profile of cycling as a healthy and fun mode of transport and for physical activity, Bike Week includes fun cycles, bike maintenance workshops and other events organised by local authorities, local sports partnerships, community groups and schools. See for full events list.

2) Depression and psychosis is the theme of a free public lecture at 7.30pm on Wednesday, June 13th in the Swift Centre, St Patrick's Hospital, James Street, Dublin 8. The talk will be given by Timmy Frawley, lecturer in mental health nursing at UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems. It is the last in the current series of lectures organised by Aware which supports people with depression, bipolar disorder and other mood conditions. See also

3) A new network to promote clinical drugs trials for children, In4Kids, was launched recently. Up to now, children generally receive "smaller doses" of adult medicines or dilution of therapies that have not been specifically developed and trialed on children.


Approximately 60 per cent of medicines and therapies used to treat children have not been studied in children, and over 90 per cent have not been studied in infants. This new network will be led by the Irish Centre for Fetal and Neonatal Translational Research at University College Cork with an initial fund of €800,000.

In4Kids is the Irish hub of the pan-European multidisciplinary network of academics, medical institutions and the pharmaceutical industry called Connect4Children (C4C). This consortium received €140 million from the Innovative Medicines Initiative funded jointly by the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations.

4) The Irish Cancer Society's annual SunSmart campaign is encouraging the public to protect their skin, even on cloudy days. Between 2005 and 2015 there was a 70 per cent increase in the incidence of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer in Ireland.

The Irish Cancer Society's advice includes staying in the shade between 11am and 3pm and wearing a shirt with a collar, long shorts, a hat and wrap-around sunglasses. The campaign also advises people to put on factor 30 sunscreen or higher before going outside and to re-apply every two hours or more often if swimming or perspiring and keep babies under six months completely out of the sun. See

5) The number of people treated for cocaine use increased over the last three years, according to the Health Research Board's new report, Drug Treatment in Ireland 2010-2016.

Opiates (mainly heroin) are the drug type that the highest numbers are seeking treatment for, followed by cannabis and cocaine. More women are now seeking treatment for cocaine but men still outnumber women in treatment centres by seven to three. The full report is available on on

6) Haemochromatosis, also known as iron overload, is an inherited condition which results in the body absorbing and storing too much iron in the body. Fatigue, depression and joint pain are common symptoms of haemochromatosis, all of which can be easily attributed to other conditions.

If not diagnosed early and treated, the excess iron in the body can result in liver cirrhosis, arthritis and diabetes. The Irish Haemochromatosis Association is hosting a national awareness day on Thursday, June 7th.  See or call (01) 873 5911.

7) Advances in the treatment of blood cancers is the theme of a free public talk by researchers on Friday, June 8th, in the Richard Carmichael Lecture Theatre, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin at 4pm. Blood cancer is a term for cancers which affect the cells or the blood or organs where blood cells grow in the bone marrow and lymphatic system. Leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma are the three main types of blood cancer. The talk is organised by Irish Cancer Society's Blood Cancer Network Ireland, a national research collaboration that gives Irish blood cancer patients access to early phase clinical trials. Email or see for more details.

8) The Irish Breast Cancer Campaign, Europa Donna Ireland is holding an information session in Buswell's Hotel, Molesworth St, Dublin 2 on Saturday, June 9th from 12.45pm-2pm.  The theme of the event is "the real patient in the virtual world". or 086 8504058 for more details.

9) The Irish Society for Colitis and Crohn's Disease (ISCC) says it is waiting on the Minister for Health Simon Harris to increase the number of specialist Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) nurses from 14 to at least 28. Approximately 40,000 people across Ireland have IBD, most of whom are diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 30. Despite this, 45 per cent of Irish hospitals have no specialist nurse to treat IBD patients. In November, last year, Mr Harris met with a delegation from the ISCC and received a petition, containing more than 3,600 signatures, supporting the ISCC's #DoubleUp campaign, a campaign that aims to double the number of specialist IBD nurses in Ireland. However, no additional IBD nurses have been hired since the meeting. To highlight the days since the meeting with the Minister, the ISCC has launched a clock on its website which is counting upwards from the meeting with the Minister. The organisation says the clock will remain live until the 14 additional IBD nurses are in place.

Sylvia Thompson

Sylvia Thompson

Sylvia Thompson, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about health, heritage and the environment