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June 22, 2004

Dail Debates. Written Answers. Substance Misuse : Dail Debates

184. Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will consider setting up and funding an independent and impartial support agency to educate and aid both the victims and the victims of victims suffering from alcohol’s negative side effects; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children (Mr. T. O’Malley): I share the Deputy’s concern that alcohol abuse continues to be a significant problem for Irish society.

The health promotion unit of my Department is involved in a range of initiatives aimed at preventing and reducing alcohol related harm. One such initiative was the establishment of the Strategic Task Force on Alcohol in January 2002, to recommend evidence based measures to Government, aimed at reducing and preventing alcohol related harm. Following a comprehensive review of the most effective alcohol policy measures by international experts, an interim report was published in May 2002. A second report, containing further recommendations, will be published in the near future. An interdepartmental group has been established to co-ordinate responses to the recommendations.

The health promotion unit of my Department has also provided funding to the Irish College of General Practitioners to implement an alcohol aware practice project to assist the GP in being more effective in helping patients with alcohol problems.

National policy on the treatment of alcohol abuse, as set out in Planning for the Future, stipulates that the emphasis in the management of alcohol related problems should be on community-based interventions. Health boards already provide and continue to develop a range of comprehensive community-based support services appropriate to the needs of persons affected and afflicted by alcohol abuse. These services include family support and community, medical and social services in the management of the problem.

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