The direct cost of treating people who are obese and overweight is almost €400 million annually, the report – to be launched by Minister for Health James Reilly – says. This is equivalent to the current overspend in Dr Reilly’s department. Indirect costs, in the form of illnesses, absenteeism and premature deaths, account for the remaining €700 million cost.
The report, commissioned by State-funded health promotion group Safefood, is critical of the fact that the taxpayer rather than the food industry pays these costs.
“The food sector is tightly regulated in terms of food safety, but not in terms of health,” said Ivan Perry of University College Cork, one of the principal authors of the study.
This is the first time researchers have put a price tag on the cost of obesity.
The report says the cost of dealing with obesity and weight issues in Northern Ireland is almost €500 million.
Dealing with the problem accounts for 2.8 per cent of total health spending, about the same as in many other developed economies, but short of the 5-6 per cent of health spending recorded in the US.
“When you look at today’s children, of whom one-quarter are obese or overweight, we’re projecting significant increases in rates over the next 20 to 30 years,” said Prof Perry.
He said the figures in the report were conservative, as they didn’t account for mental health costs and made conservative assumptions about the number of years of life lost due to weight-related problems.
In the light of the report findings, he said, it was clear there was much greater value for money to be had from infrastructural projects, such as the introduction of cycling routes or measures to promote walking, than had previously been thought.
Prof Perry said the report showed food choices weren’t just an issue between food producers and consumers, because the costs affected all taxpayers. “There’s a huge emphasis on personal choice in relation to what you eat, yet this report shows there are wider societal costs,” he said.
The report revisits the recommendations made by a previous government’s national taskforce on obesity, dating back to 2004.
STUDENTS are targeting backbench government TDs in an escalating protest campaign over college fees.
Almost 1,200 University College Cork (UCC) and Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) students marched on the offices of Fine Gael Cork South Central TD Jerry Buttimer to highlight anger at what they called “tuition fees by stealth.”
It was the first in a series of 12 protests to target specific government backbench TDs over proposed fee hikes and threatened grant cuts.
Further protests will be staged nationwide.
CIT Student Union President Danny O’Donovan said that registration fees were effectively being used as a means of re-introducing tuition fees.
Students challenged Mr Buttimer outside his Glasheen Road offices to sign a pledge to oppose fee hikes and grant cuts.
He declined to sign — but promised to raise their fears with cabinet members.
“The important thing is that we live in a democracy. We are in a difficult budgetary situation. What you said today is important. Education is the passport for us as a society to regrow, rebuild and regenerate our country. There is, however, no easy solution,” he said.
UCC Students Union welfare officer David Carey revealed he had received 300 applications in just two weeks from students hoping to get support from an EU fund, set up to help those in financial hardship.
He said some students faced a choice between paying their rent, paying for food or paying for heating.
UCC business studies student, Niamh Forde, said she has been waiting for three months for her maintenance grant.
Students expressed anger that despite promises by Labour not to increase fees before the last election, college charges are set to soar to €3,000 by 2015.
– Ralph Riegel
Health Innovation Hub launches to help healthcare companies create solutions faster – Irish Innovation News – Siliconrepublic.com
Michael Fitzgerald, CEO of Abtran, one of the companies participating in the Health Innovation Hub demonstrator project
A new healthcare project has launched in Cork today to bring together six healthcare companies with the health system and academia in order to help such companies move faster on developing products and services.
The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton, TD, and the Minister for Health Dr James Reilly, TD, launched the new Health Innovation Hub project at University College Cork (UCC) today.
The project, which has been based on international models, such as the North Carolina Research Triangle, is aiming to progress healthcare technologies.
The idea is to help healthcare companies deliver commercial products and services more quickly by giving them access to the health service in order to test products in a real-life environment. Another aim of the project is to allow the health service to become more efficient by enabling the HSE and hospitals to engage and participate with companies that are creating solutions.
Six Irish healthcare companies will now be taking part in the demonstrator project. They include Abtran, which is working on a GP referral system in hospitals to reduce costs, improve waiting lists and improve patient care. Arann Healthcare is working with Cork University Hospital to develop a mattress sterilisation product.
Helix Health is pioneering an electronic prescription service to send prescriptions automatically from GPs to pharmacies. Radisens Diagnostics is working with hospitals to develop technology to allow GPs to take and process blood tests in their surgeries.
Rigney Dolphin is working with Cork University Hospital (CUH) to develop a post-discharge patient telephone follow-up programme. The aim is to help prevent avoidable re-admissions and to improve continuity of care. Sláinte Healthcare is developing paperless testing data with the Warfarin Clinic at CUH.
A collaborative venture between Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland, the HSE, Cork Institute of Technology and University College Cork, the hub is being driven by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and the Department of Health.
Dave Shanahan, head of strategic health initiatives at Abbott and national project team chairman, said Ireland is now recognising the “critical role” the national healthcare system has in supporting domestic innovation and commercialisation.
“The global healthcare market of US$2.5trn requires ongoing product and service innovation. Ireland, with its unique concentration of pharmaceutical, medical device and ICT industries, is uniquely placed to exploit this market, provided we join up all elements of the value chain,” he said.