Friday, February 06, 2009

Brian Lenihan TD responds to cervical cancer campaign email with press release

When Shauneen emailed us as part of the "Harney must reinstate cervical cancer vaccine" campaign, part of the request was to email our local TD to tell him what we thought of the Dáil vote which sought to have the cervical cancer vaccine programme implemented. That was mid November 2008.

Brian Lenihan, the Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin West, Minister for Finance and ex Minister for Children is the local TD here so I dropped him an email back then. I got his response by post this morning.

Dear Darragh

Please accept my apologies for the delay in replying to your email regarding your concerns on the HPV vaccine.

I enclose herewith copy of press release issued by Ms. Mary Harney T.D., Minister for Health and Children in this regard.

If can be of any further assistance on any matter please don't hesitate to contact my office,

Best wishes

Yours sincerely,

Brian Lenihan T.D.
Minister for Finance

The attached press release was a statement by Mary Harney on the HPV vaccination programme dated 04 November 2008.
"The economic situation has rapidly and seriously deteriorated. Public resources, including those for health, are very scarce indeed and will remain so. I have decided that the best that can be achieved in these circumstances is to prioritise funding for the development of the cervical screening programme and treatment services at the eight designated cancer centres, which includes the challenge of funding very expensive cancer drugs. I will not therefore be proceeding with the introduction of a HPV vaccination programme.

"The continuation and expansion of the Cancer Control Programme under Professor Tom Keane remains a priority and funding of €15 million has been made available for this.

"At the moment we are rolling out the National Cervical Screening Programme, CervicalCheck. The Programme will provide free smear tests through primary care settings to the 1.1 million women living in Ireland aged between 25 and 60 years. A successful national programme has the potential to cut mortality rates from cervical cancer by up to 80%."
I don't think there's much point on commenting on how ineffective and unsatisfactory either Minister's response is.

As of today there's 12,804 members in the Facebook group. Their aim is simple - it's calling on Minister Harney to go back on her decision to not implement the vaccine for cervical cancer for 12 year olds, a programme that would cost just €8m a year for primary schools and one that could save an estimated 50+ lives a year.

If you haven't joined the group, please do so. If you haven't invited your friends to join, please do so. The group grew from 255 members on Nov 12 to over 12,800 today with your help.

You can also join the 1,335 people who have signed the STOP Cervical Cancer Petition which calls upon:
"The European Parliament, the European Commission and all National Governments of Europe to implement the effective organised cervical cancer prevention programmes that will provide the optimal protection against cervical cancer for all the women of Europe."


  1. this vaccine is very controversial over here in north America - its not been fully tested for long term health effects and there are questions as to whether or not a 10 yr old needs a vaccine that is supposed to protect her from a form of cancer that can only come from unprotected sex. not to mention nobody knowing what it will do to a young girl's hormones.

    There is also the issue of how prevalent this form of cancer is (not very) and what the success rate is for standard cure once found (very very high). Many people think this is just another scam by drug companies to make big profits off people's fear of the 'C' word.

    Having been through this disease myself - I'd much rather see funding going to the nastiest and most prevalent forms of cancer for research too.

    just my two cents worth.

  2. FYI- there is a book on “The HPV Vaccine Controversy: Sex, Cancer, God and Politics” authored by Shobha S. Krishnan, M.D, Barnard college, Columbia University. It is available at and Barnes and Noble .com and is written without the influence of any pharmaceutical company or special interest groups. Link to the book: