Donnelly plan for free contraceptives for women challenged

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Health Minister Stephen Donnelly is still fighting to make funding for the distribution of free contraceptives to women available in the budget.

This measure is part of efforts by the struggling Minister of Health to maintain funding levels for many “non-Covid 19 services” that received huge funding levels in 2020 and again this year, compared to many many previous years.

Areas in which Mr. Donnelly is fighting for increased resources include funding for services for people with dementia, a national maternity strategy, cancer care services and trauma centers.

The revelation comes as internal competition for scarce funding intensifies. There are only 19 days left on Budget Day, where 80 billion euros of state spending will be revealed on Tuesday, October 12.

A government source suggested that drawing up budget spending for the year 2022 could be a sort of “last hurray” for defenders of the state taking a more lenient view of public spending, current account deficits and management. long-term debt.

The debate has already opened on when and how to resume strict EU rules on public deficits and debt, linked to decisions around the creation of the EU’s single currency dating back to 1989. These strict rules were suspended in spring 2020 to help member states spend what it takes to deal with the Covid-19 emergency.

The EU’s deficit and debt limits will be automatically restored in 2023. But how and when to handle this process is already a big factor in the German federal elections, where voters will go to the polls next Sunday.

The Irish Department of Health’s funding battles have long been a major feature of the budget process, with opposition politicians arguing that the health budget was always underfunded – and often requiring a large additional allocation in the end. of the year.

Government sources have pointed out the big difference in funding and spending on healthcare over the past two years as the country grapples with the lockdown.

Funding for a dementia care program, initiated only in 2019, amounts to € 13 million.

The other services also saw their allocations increase significantly.

“The top priority for us now is to continue to fight for funds to deal with waiting lists for care in so many areas throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. It will take a lot of resources to deal with that, ”a well-placed source told the. Independent Irish.

“So many services have been overlooked because of Covid. But now there are long lines, ”added the source.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly pledged earlier this month to launch a program to make free contraceptives available, primarily starting with younger women.

The idea has been championed by women’s health activists for some time, and France and Britain have already launched similar programs.

The Irish Pharmacy Union has urged the Irish government to follow suit.

Earlier this month, Mr Donnelly said the time had come to include the principle of free contraceptives for women in budget 2022 spending plans.

At the same time, most ministries will now be engaged in discussions on how to reward frontline workers for the extra special efforts made during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Several ministers want to extend this beyond frontline healthcare workers – to people involved in retail, public transport and other services used by citizens during the various lockdowns since March 2020.

It is not clear if a deal can be reached in time for Budget Day.


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