New cancer strategy to cost €100m a year over 10 years

Minister for Health Simon Harris TD speaking at the launch of the National Cancer Strategy in Iveagh House. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

The new National Cancer Strategy will cost €100 million a year over the next 10 years, Minister for Health Simon Harris has said.

Speaking at Wednesday’s launch of the strategy, which covers 2017 to 2026, Mr Harris said he would seek the funding on an incremental basis as part of the budget estimates process.

He also said he was fully committed to all 52 recommendations in the strategy. His department will publish an annual report on the implementation of the recommendations, he said, and the degree to which the key performance indicators are met.

“We need to show year-on-year, the progress we are making in turning this strategy into a reality,” he said.

He described the launch as a “good day for the Irish health service” and said he was very determined to implement it.

Image: Irish Times graphics
Image: Irish Times graphics

The number of cancer cases in Ireland is expected to double by 2040, mainly due to an ageing population. Non-melanoma skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed, followed by breast cancer in women, prostate cancer in men and colorectal and lung cancer in both.

Cancer prevention is described as the “cornerstone” of the strategy, which is the third iteration of a national cancer plan.

It aims to work toward a tobacco-free Ireland by 2025 and promote healthy lifestyles to address the 30 to 40 per cent of cancers that are preventable.

Speaking at the launch, chairman of the cancer strategy steering group Prof John Kennedy, said there had been enormous improvements in cancer treatment in Ireland in the past 20 years, but there were very substantial challenges to be faced.

Staffing problems

“For obvious reasons there has been limited investment in capital and human infrastructure over the past decade,” he said.

Allied health professionals, including radiographers, specialist nurses and specialists in genetic oncology are all “desperately needed”, he said.

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