Speech by Pat the Cope Gallagher T.D., Minister for Health Promotion and Food Safety For Dublin Dental School & Hospital Health Awareness Week, Thursday 28th February 2008.

Good morning ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted to be here this morning to take part in Dublin Dental School and Hospital Health Awareness Week. I understand that this is the first Health Awareness Week to take place in the hospital and that so far it has been a great success.

As Minister with responsibility for Health Promotion, I fully support this initiative and believe it will make a very valuable contribution to raising our awareness of many very important issues regarding our health and wellbeing.

Each day of this week has a different theme where the level of awareness is raised by way of activities and supporting lectures. I also see that there are Stands containing information leaflets regarding each topic available in the Hospital foyer each day and are manned by staff and student volunteers.

•On Monday you had Cancer Awareness Day where people had the opportunity to equip themselves with up to date information in relation to various cancers.
•Tuesday’s theme dealt with how to quit smoking and offered practical advice on the best techniques and methods suitable to a person’s needs. It also included information on the dangers of smoking and its impact on the body.
•Yesterday’s session provided practical advice on how to look after our teeth, how diet affects your teeth and common oral diseases.
•Today sees the launch of your Patient Hand Hygiene Programme ‘Clean Hands Saves Lives’. This programme is based on the HSE awareness programme where patients will be actively encouraged to check if their health care worker has washed their hands prior to commencement of their treatment.
•Tomorrow’s theme is titled Happy Heart and Healthy Diet and will include a question and answer session where staff members from the National Dairy Council will be on hand to answer questions regarding nutrition. Information will also be available on how best to manage your diet and still enjoy the pleasure of eating.

I am pleased to note that the School and Hospital has taken a proactive approach in their response to heightened awareness regarding hospital cleanliness and the positive effects of effective hand hygiene and its role in the reduction of disease transmission. This initiative has been supported by members of the 2007 Dental Hospital’s patient forum. I believe it is also significant that students of all disciplines are trained in cross infection control including effective hand hygiene and must complete a competence prior to entry onto clinical placements at the beginning of each academic year. I should also mention that experienced staff of Dublin Dental School and Hospital, including Professor David Coleman, Professor of Microbiology and his team have been actively involved in the documentation and launch of the HSE code of Practice for Decontamination of Re-Usable Invasive Medical Devices Directive.

In relation to the Dublin Dental School and Hospital’s wider role in the Community it would be seen as a benchmark for the operation and practice of cross infection controls in dentistry. This school and hospital is one of the few, so far, accredited hospitals in the country. The Irish Health Services Accreditation Board have commented positively in their reports in relation to your high standards of cross infection control.


I understand the initiative of a Health Awareness Week has come as a result of collaborative work within a multidisciplinary team of staff within the organisation and that a staff coordinator was assigned for each daily topic. I am also informed that support for the initiative was gathered both internally and externally and this has culminated in high quality information stands supported by knowledgeable and experienced staff, students and voluntary organisations.

I would like to pay tribute to all those involved in this excellent initiative. You have obviously worked very hard on this and done an outstanding job and should be very proud of your achievements.

Finally, I would like to thank Ms Tina Gorman, Director of Nursing and Professor Noel Claffey for inviting me here today. Thank you and good luck with the remainder of your programme for Health Awareness Week.