Wednesday, 24 May 2000
Dáil Eireann Debate
178. Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Health and Children the measures which can be taken to increase awareness by Irish people travelling abroad to avoid serious illness; and whether Irish holiday makers are experiencing such endemic diseases-illness or are at risk in this regard travelling to certain destinations. [14722/00]
Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): It is a matter in the first place for intending travellers to countries where certain infectious diseases are prevalent to familiarise themselves with the general advice on immunisation for travellers to the country concerned. Advice and information is obtainable through general practitioners, health boards, travel health centres, travel agents or the embassy or consulate of the country which it is intended to visit. In addition to the traditional immunisation advice, intending travellers should also consider seeking advice on a range of other issues, for example, whether they are medically fit to travel, what medical provision should be made for individuals with pre-existing illness and what general precautions should be taken in relation to eating, drinking and exposure to a different environment from that to which people are accustomed.
It should also be noted that under the terms of sections 10(1)(e) and 12(1)(b) of the Package  Holidays and Travel Trade Act, 1995, amongst the information which organisers of package holidays are required to make available to possible consumers is information about health formalities required by national administrations for the journey and the stay.
The notifications of infectious diseases reported by the health boards to my Department do not generally enable a distinction to be made as between conditions contracted in Ireland and those contracted abroad. However diseases not endemic in Ireland, for example, malaria, would by definition have been contracted abroad. A number of cases of this condition have been reported in Ireland each year.
My Department publishes material containing general health advice for persons planning to travel abroad and this deals with the risks of infectious disease and the desirability of ensuring that intending travellers to at-risk countries obtain the appropriate vaccinations, as well as some of the other issues to which I have referred. The Immunisation Advisory Committee of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, in its Immunisation Guidelines for Ireland, 1999 edition, included advice to medical professionals on immunisation for persons travelling abroad. My Department has arranged for the distribution of these revised guidelines to a range of interested parties.
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