Question to the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mr. Eamon Gilmore, TD)
To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide details of the Esther Ireland partnership between Cork University Maternity Hospital and Omdurman Maternity Hospital, Sudan; the funding being provided to support this partnership; the work being done to improve health outcomes for mothers and babies who are diagnosed with HIV/AIDS; and if he will make a statement on the matter. -Jerry Buttimer.
For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 24th September, 2013.
ESTHER Ireland initiative is an innovative programme that links Irish healthcare institutions with counterparts in the developing world. The initiative, which I launched in July of this year, is managed through a partnership between the Health Service Executive (HSE) and Irish Aid. It forms part of a wider European alliance of hospitals and healthcare institutions working with the developing world.
The ESTHER Ireland programme is designed to promote skill-sharing partnerships by building capacity in countries with the greatest health needs in a sustainable manner. The programme also benefits Irish health professionals, who gain invaluable experience and new skills.
The ESTHER Ireland initiative does not provide grant funding but rather builds institutional linkages between partners, which includes the partnership between Cork University Maternity Hospital and the Omdurman Maternity Hospital in Sudan. In addition, since 2005, the Cork- Omdurman partnership was been awarded grant funding of over €200,000 from the Irish Aid Civil Society Fund for capacity building initiatives, including for the training of village midwives in rural areas in newborn resuscitation techniques. The partnership has shown very encouraging results and is a fine example of a healthcare partnership model in maternity care.
Preventing and responding to HIV and AIDS and improving health outcomes for women and children will continue to be a priority for the Irish Aid programme. There has been a steady reduction in the global rate of transmission from HIV infected pregnant women to their newborn children and Irish Aid has been proud to be part of this effort.
I had the pleasure of welcoming Mark Dybul, the Executive Director of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, to Ireland earlier this month and we had a very valuable discussion on the challenges ahead. While it is true that our efforts are working and HIV infection rates have decreased in many countries, including a number of African countries, nevertheless, there is still more to be done. For many sub-Saharan African countries, disease continues to be the biggest single obstacle to reducing poverty and to attaining the Millennium Development Goals.
The world is at a juncture where it may eliminate HIV/AIDS, as long as concerted efforts and the required resources are put in place. This is why Ireland will continue to prioritise HIV in its development programme. Our new International Development Policy, One World One Future , highlights how we will do this, by building on the international respect Ireland has earned through our work on HIV and AIDS, and continuing to invest globally, regionally and at country levels to overcome this pandemic. We will draw in particular, draw more attention to effective prevention, including by addressing inequality and gender-based violence, as part of a coherent approach to the issue. Our global efforts will work in synergy with on the ground assistance in our partner countries.