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Minister Harris meets Commissioner Andriukaitis to discuss European health issues

Minister Harris today, 23 May, welcomed EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, to Leinster House for a meeting to discuss health issues of significance for Ireland and for Europe.

Minister Harris raised Ireland’s overall concerns and priorities in relation to Brexit with Commissioner Andriukaitis and discussed the implications of Brexit for the health sector. The Minister reiterated Ireland’s commitment to membership of the EU and to maintaining a united approach among the 27 EU Member States when negotiations get underway. He also outlined the advantages that Dublin offers as a location for the European Medicines Agency in terms of sustainability and minimising disruption when it moves from London.

Minister Harris and Commissioner Andriukaitis discussed how European countries can work together to ensure that patients are able to secure access to new and innovative drug treatments at an affordable price.

They also discussed European Reference Networks that allow countries to pool together international expertise on rare diseases for the benefit of patients, and how best to combat the threat of anti-microbial resistance (AMR) including the fact that Ireland is finalising its first interdepartmental National Action Plan on AMR with a ‘One Health’ approach.

Speaking after the meeting, Minister Harris said “I was very pleased to meet with Commissioner Andriukaitis to discuss a number of common health challenges facing EU countries and the implications of Brexit for the health sector. All of our work relating to Brexit’s impact on the health sector is informed by the following key priorities – to ensure continuity in the provision of health services and to avoid any changes to the current situation that would have a negative impact on human health. In this context, we had a useful discussion on health issues, and I look forward to engaging further with the Commission and other EU Member States on these issues in the future."

Minister Corcoran Kennedy attended the meeting and discussed preventing alcohol-related harm. Speaking after the meeting she said “There is clear evidence that excessive use of alcohol is associated with poor physical and mental health and well-being. We need to reduce our alcohol intake as a nation. The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill will help to address this and I welcome the support we have received from Commissioner Andriukaitis for the bill.”