Dáil Éireann - Volume 540 - 04 July, 2001
Written Answers. - Anti-microbial Resistance Measures.
Mr. Allen Mr. Allen
156. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Health and Children if he proposes to establish a network of reference laboratories to service routine laboratories; and if he proposes the establishment of general practice and hospital based surveillance systems to deal with anti-microbial resistance. [20351/01]
Mr. Martin Mr. Martin
Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): In 1999 my Department asked the National Disease Surveillance Centre to evaluate the problem of anti-microbial resistance in Ireland and to formulate a strategy for the future. The NDSC has given detailed consideration to these issues and has drawn up a document entitled Strategy for the control of Anti-microbial Resistance in Ireland, which I launched on 19 June. This report contains a wide range of detailed recommendations to address the issues, including those referred to by the Deputy. These can be grouped into four categories as follows: surveillance of resistance and antibiotic use; hygiene and prevention of infection; judicious use of antibiotics in hospitals and the community; and education of health care workers, patients and the general public. I welcome the recommendations in this report and am committed to ensuring their implementation.
Ireland already participates in the European Anti-microbial Resistance Surveillance System and this has given us valuable data on anti-microbial resistance in Ireland. The EARRS program is supported by two established reference laboratories, the MRSA reference laboratory at St. James' Hospital and the streptococcus reference laboratory at Beaumont Hospital.
A comprehensive national surveillance system for anti-microbial resistance will be established, building on the success of EARRS and the North-South MRSA study. This system will cover anti-microbial resistance in the community as well as the hospital setting and will be central to the implementation of the SARI recommendations.
 Tackling the problem of anti-microbial resistance is a multifaceted issue which will require action on a number of fronts. As a first step, in the current year £2 million has been provided to the health boards for anti-microbial resistance measures, taking into account the recommendations in SARI and in the North-South Study of MRSA in Ireland 1999. The boards have been asked to address in particular infection control strategies and staffing in both hospitals and the community, the development of surveillance systems for the collection of anti-microbial resistance data and information on antibiotic prescribing in hospitals. In addition, funding has been provided for the establishment of a national MRSA reference laboratory at St. James' Hospital in Dublin which, it is envisaged, will come into operation later this year.
It is anticipated that the development of services in relation to anti-microbial resistance will take place on a phased basis over the next two to three years.
Dáil Éireann 540 Written Answers. Anti-microbial Resistance Measures.