The Department of Health has welcomed a German delegation of health officials for a three-day engagement on improving public health systems.

The visit aims to foster collaboration, information sharing and learning between health officials in both countries.

 

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Ireland is currently working through an ambitious public health reform programme which includes significant investment in the public health workforce, consideration and implementation of Public Health Reform Expert Advisory Groups recommendations, development of a public health strategy and an examination of how best to respond to future and emerging health threats.

Ireland’s robust response to the COVID-19 pandemic ensured that it was one of just seven OECD countries which did not have excess deaths during the core pandemic years.

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The uptake rate for primary COVID-19 vaccinations was also among the highest in the EU.

With other countries eager to learn from Ireland’s experience, the visit of the German delegation is an opportunity for Ireland to highlight ongoing projects that will further strengthen public health systems, and to learn from the experiences of our German colleagues.

The group, which includes Secretary of State for Health, Dr Antje Draheim and Senior Consultant in Public health Dr Elke Jakubowski, will visit a number of health care sites and facilities to get an understanding of how services are delivered on the ground.

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Welcoming the group to Ireland, Chief Medical Officer Professor Breda Smyth said:

I am delighted to welcome Dr Antje Draheim, Dr Elke Jakubowski and the wider delegation to Dublin for three days of information sharing and learning.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of strong and robust public health services within the wider health service.

With both countries in the midst of examining their public health functions, this is the perfect time to learn from each other and start what will be an ongoing dialogue on public health reform and development.

The Department is currently in the initial stages of developing a public health strategy which will address the four domains of public health:

  • Health Improvement
  • Health Service Improvement
  • Health Protection
  • Health Intelligence.

This will include a prevention strategy, which will support health and wellbeing at home, aim to increase care in the community, and reduce the need for hospital-based care.

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Minister Rabbitte said:

Public health prevention strategies play a pivotal role in safeguarding the well-being of communities by focusing on proactive measures to mitigate health risks and promote overall wellness.

These strategies encompass a wide array of initiatives, ranging from vaccination campaigns and disease screenings to health education programs and policy interventions.

By addressing underlying determinants of health and targeting risk factors early on, public health prevention efforts not only reduce the burden of preventable diseases but also alleviate strain on healthcare systems and resources.

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and she continued:

Being prepared for another pandemic is not merely a matter of anticipation but an imperative for global health security.

Learning from the lessons of past outbreaks, it is essential to prioritise robust preparedness measures to mitigate the impact of future pandemics.

This includes strengthening surveillance systems for early detection, investing in research and development of vaccines and treatments, and enhancing healthcare infrastructure to handle surges in cases effectively.

 

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and she continued:

Additionally, fostering international collaboration and coordination among governments, public health agencies, and other stakeholders is paramount for a swift and unified response to emerging threats.

Equally important is promoting public awareness and education on preventive measures to curb the spread of infectious diseases.

By taking proactive steps to bolster our preparedness efforts, we can safeguard lives, protect livelihoods, and bolster global resilience in the face of future health crises.

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