2 May 2002 Edition

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Breast cancer service delays slammed

Sinn Féin's women candidates in the general election have slammed the government for its inaction on providing breast cancer services.

Mary Lou McDonald (Dublin West), Cllr Anne O'Leary (Cork South West), Deirdre Whelan (Dublin South), Niamh Hogg (Westmeath), Mairead Keane (Wicklow), Frances McCole (Dublin North Central), and June Murphy (Cork East) were speaking following the publication of a report on the subject by Professor Niall O'Higgins of University College Dublin.

Professor O'Higgins, a leading cancer surgeon, on Tuesday highlighted the failure of the Health Boards to implement a government promise, endorsed two years ago, to establish eleven specialist breast cancer units across the state.

Sinn Féin's women candidates, in a joint statement, said: "The fact that none of the specialist breast cancer services have been fully developed is an indictment not only of the health boards but of the Fianna Fáil/PD government. This is yet another example of the failure that has marked the government's record on health.

"Breast cancer is the most common non-skin cancer among women in Ireland. One in 13 Irish women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. The result of successive governments' attitude to this very important issue is that a woman living in Ireland is four times more likely to die from breast cancer than her European counterpart. Likewise, those living in the West of Ireland or in other rural areas are more likely to die as a result of breast cancer than those living in the main urban centres.

"Sinn Féin has called for a free and prompt national breast-screening programme for all women over 40. The fact that we are nowhere near that goal is nothing short of a disgrace.

"In the past week we have heard Fianna Fáil promises on health. Today's report makes it glaringly obvious that that party's record is one of indifference to an issue that is fundamentally important to the lives of women."


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