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Disability value-for-money review

Senator Trevor O Clochartaigh (SF, agricultural) appealed to the government to adopt a national vision policy (Seanad Eireann, Debates, 19th October 2011, 950-3).  The Vision Impaired Service Providers Alliance (VISPA), which comprised the National council for the Blind, Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind, St Joseph’s Centre for the Visually Impaired and Fighting Blindness had promoted such a policy on behalf of the 224,832 people affected by sight loss and the 12,995 people who were blind.  The government had committed in 2009 to a national coordinating committee to implement Vision 2020, a World Health Organization resolution, but nothing had yet been established.  So far, 118 WHO member states had established national committees.  VISPA wanted a vision health plan for Ireland.  A vision strategy would include access to resources, critical planning, rehabilitation and research.


Responding, the Minister of State at the Department of Health, Kathleen Lynch, told him that it was not proposed to set up a national coordinating committee to develop and implement a national vision policy, strategy and plan, but the government would continue to provide and develop vision services and supports through health prevention, screening and intervention policies and programmes.  The government would finalize a value-for-money and policy review of disability services before the end of the year.  The report of the disability policy review had been published for public consultation and she urged anyone with an interest to give their opinion.  While it was not proposed to develop a specific vision policy, she was working through the actions required to address the WHO’s goals.


Senator Trevor O Clochartaigh expressed his disappointment: ‘if we are allowed to renege on a health commitment, why can we not renege on our commitments to the EU, the IMF and the troika?’ he asked.  It beggared belief that we can meet our commitments in an economic area but not health.  Nor did she address the issue of research funding.  Replying, the minister of state told him that she had no indication that vision impairment funding would be cut.