Dáil Éireann - Volume 653 - 08 May, 2008
Written Answers. - Disease Screening Programme.
Deputy Bernard Allen Deputy Bernard Allen
Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for Health and Children if she proposes to introduce a programme whereby all patients over 65 years of age should be tested for Alzheimer’s disease (details supplied). [17828/08]
Deputy Mary Harney Deputy Mary Harney
Deputy Mary Harney: Alzheimer disease is the most common form of dementia in Ireland. It is characterised by progressive, and almost always, irreversible decline in mental functioning. The condition has no single cause and, as yet, no single cure. It has a life changing physical, emotional and mental impact on the affected person and their primary carer and family. It is largely, but not exclusively, a condition of older age. While dementia is not solely related to age, it does affect 5% of people over 65 years with the figure rising to 20% over 80 years of age.
The case for any new screening programme would have to be carefully assessed against international criteria for the application of such programmes. These would include, for example, the ability to reliably predict the disease earlier than would present normally. The question of intervening earlier to change the course of the disease would also have to be determined, prior to the introduction of any effective programme. My Department is obviously familiar with the various and complex evolving issues associated with bringing about improvements in the detection and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. In this context, my Department will keep the issue of an effective screening programme in this regard under close review. It is important that information, care and support are made available as early as possible and this is what services try to achieve.
Dáil Éireann 653 Written Answers. Disease Screening Programme.