Speeches

Speech by the Minister for Health and Children, Mr Micheál Martin at the launch of the 2002 National Donor Forget-Me-Not week

 Introduction

Chairperson, Ladies and Gentleman, I am very pleased to be here today and to have this opportunity to speak to you on the occasion of the launch of the National Donor Forget-Me-Not Week. I was delighted to receive the invitation from Mr Mark Murphy, Chief Executive of the Irish Kidney Association and I had no hesitation in accepting it.

National Donor Forget-Me-Not Week is a very important event in the calendar for the Irish Health Service. It clearly highlights the role of the voluntary sector and demonstrates the benefits of the partnership approach inherent in the Donor for Transplantation Campaign.

Irish Kidney Association

At the outset I would like to pay tribute to the members of the Irish Kidney Association, in their twenty three branches nationwide, who have been providing information, counselling and respite care for patients and their families since 1978.

During Forget-Me-Not Week the importance of organ donation is highlighted and a special plea is made for funding to enable the Irish Donor Network to continue its important work.

Donor Awareness Week 2002

Forget-Me-Not Week will run this year from 31st March to 6th April and during this week volunteers will be promoting the importance of carrying a donor card and the “Gift of Life” that organ donation gives to patients.

I know that volunteers from the Irish Kidney Association´s branches around the country will be taking part in a variety of fundraising activities and that the emblem for donor week, the Forget-Me-Not flower will be on sale all over the country. I wish the Association every success with the campaign and their work throughout the year.

Presentation of €286,000 from the National Lottery

The National Donor Forget-Me-Not Week is a very important week in the Association´s calendar and it is essential to constantly remind people of the importance of carrying Organ Donor Cards. I would also like to emphasise how important it is for relatives of organ donors to be aware of the wishes of potential donors and to be involved in the donation process.

I was very pleased to be able to support Forget-Me-Not Week in previous years and I wish to confirm my continuing support this year for this important initiative. I am delighted to be able to announce the provision of €286,000 this year for the campaign. This significant level of funding will help to further promote the importance of organ donation in Ireland.

Health Strategy

One of the goals of the Health Strategy Quality and Fairness – A Health System for You launched in November 2001 is the need for responsiveness and appropriate care delivery. The aim is to gear the health system to respond appropriately to the needs of individuals and families. We must also be concerned to ensure that the various parts of the system are being utilised to their maximum effectiveness and efficiency. In the context of organ transplantation this goal includes a commitment to the further development of organ transplantation services in this country. The aim will be to strengthen organ procurement and retrieval practices and to increase organ donation awareness and organ utilisation rates. This commitment will be advanced through the establishment of a working group which will be representative of the key interests in the area of organ transplantation.

Conclusion

Finally, I would like to once again thank the Irish Kidney Association for inviting me here today to launch National Donor Forget-Me-Not Week. It is a task I have great pleasure in performing. I congratulate the association on all its marvellous work over the past twenty three years and wish them many more successful years.

Thank you.