Caitríona McClean, Fianna Fáil activist and a Dublin Mid-West candidate in GE20, welcomes call from the Oireachtas Health Committee for a government strategy on vitamin D but says it doesn’t go far enough. ‘Some months ago, I raised this matter at an internal Fianna Fáil webinar and got a lot of support from Minister Mary Butler.’ The matter was taken forward but it is understood NPHET said there was not sufficient evidence to be sure of a causal connection between high levels of vitamin D and the possible reduction of serious impact of the Covid19 virus on individuals, and the Government did not act.
My suggestion was that those on medical cards and where medically appropriate be subscribed vitamin D free of charge’ , says Caitríona. ‘Whereas I am delighted to hear the Oireachtas Health Committee come forward with similar suggestions now, I think it is too slow to act and is doing too little too late’ says McClean. ‘ There are many older people living in Palmerstown, Clondalkin, Lucan, and other parts of the constituency here in Dublin Mid -West who are financially stretched.’ Caitríona says she knows this to be true because of the huge success of her campaign to place a ceiling on medical card prescriptions a number of years ago when pensioners explained how they were juggling their spending in weeks when they had to collect their prescriptions. ‘There was huge support among the general public for pensioners then, and I know from meeting people pre pandemic on the question of pension age that this support is still there. People spoke out and were ready to sign a petition on prescription charges, and more recently made representation on behalf of relatives on the whole question of fairness and the pension age.’ McClean argues that the Government are not looking at the big picture, and are not looking realistically at the cost/ benefit of an initiative on vitamin D. It’s over simplistic she says to assume that the Covid19 pandemic will disappear and that we will not experience variations or other forms in the months and years post vaccination. She also suggests that the benefits of a healthier population are huge in terms of cost saving to the much over stretched health system here in Ireland.
‘ I strongly believe the Government were wrong to reject the rollout of vitamin D based on the lack of specific research, and we have gone through winter months now where people who are confined to their homes would have benefitted generally from the supplement.’ Caitríona is concerned that the Health Committee are too timid in their approach and too slow to come forward. Anecdotal evidence exists everywhere that those who can afford it are buying up vitamin D. ‘When we know that older people and compromised people are more likely to suffer more severe consequences of Covid, it makes no sense at all not to invest in a vitamin rollout.’ Delay, hesitation, and refusal may cost lives as well as adding to the cost of the Health service, Caitríona believes.
‘I am appealing now, not just to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, but to Minister Michael McGrath, if nothing else to look at this as a potential huge cost saver to the exchequer in the short, medium, and long term.’ ‘If the Government are now looking at every euro twice as a result of the enormous cost of Covid support measures, please do not make false economies by refusing this a second time’