Dáil Éireann - Volume 592 - 17 November, 2004
Written Answers. - Departmental Programmes.
Ms McManus Ms McManus
139. Ms McManus asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if, in view of the increase of inflammatory bowel disease in children, she will consider listing it as a notifiable illness; if information leaflets on IBD awareness in children, symptoms and so on, will be supplied to general practitioners and health centres as well as information on Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28790/04]
Ms Harney Ms Harney
Ms Harney: Under the 1970 Health Act, a health board may arrange for the supply, without charge, of drugs, medicines and medical and surgical appliances to people with a specified condition, for the treatment of that condition under the long-term illness scheme. The conditions are: mental handicap, mental illness — for people under 16 only, phenylketonuria, cystic fibrosis, spina bifida, hydrocephalus, diabetes mellitus, diabetes insipidus, haemophilia, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophies, parkinsonism, conditions arising from thalidomide and acute leukaemia. There are currently no plans to amend the list of eligible conditions.
Other schemes provide assistance towards the cost of approved drugs and medicines for people with significant ongoing medical expenses. People who cannot, without undue hardship, arrange for the provision of medical services for themselves and their dependants may be entitled to a medical card. Eligibility for a medical card is solely a matter for the chief executive officer of the relevant health board. In determining eligibility, the CEO has regard to the applicant’s financial circumstances. Health boards use income guidelines to assist in determining eligibility. However, where a person’s income exceeds the guidelines, a medical card may be awarded if the CEO considers that the person’s medical needs or other circumstances would justify this. Medical cards may also be issued to individual family members on this basis.
Non-medical card holders, and people with conditions not covered under the LTI, can use the drugs payment scheme. Under this scheme, no individual or family unit pays more than €78 per calendar month towards the cost of approved prescribed medicines.
 Notifiable illnesses under the regulations in place only refer to communicable diseases such as TB, hepatitis, meningitis, etc., and this is done for reasons of public health protection from transmission of those diseases. No such consideration would be relevant in the case of irritable bowel disease. My Department has no plans with regard to the preparation or distribution of information leaflets on irritable bowel disease to general practitioners. It is a matter for the GP in consultation with the patient to decide on the most appropriate course of treatment.
Dáil Éireann 592 Written Answers. Departmental Programmes.