DURKAN LOBBIES MINISTER OF HEALTH FOR UK-WIDE STREP B SCREENING
SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan has met the Minister of Health Dr Dan Poulter in London this week to press the case for the urgent introduction of a UK-wide Group B Streptococcus (GBS) screening programme.
The programme would prevent newborn babies becoming seriously ill and dying from the rare but deadly infection.
Mr Durkan also tabled a parliamentary motion last year calling for all levels of government to embrace the case for screening.
Durkan has supported the local campaign to raise awareness of the life-threatening infection by taking part in the walk of Derry’s two bridges in memory of baby Grace McGroarty.
He told Derry Daily, “I am deeply concerned that the reported incidence of Group B Streptococcus infection in newborn babies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland increased by 32% between 2003 and 2010.
“GBS infection is the most common cause of life-threatening infection in newborn babies in the UK, with Northern Ireland unfortunately leading that statistic.
“Without preventative action, 1 in 1,000 newborn babies per year will develop GBS infection, of whom approximately 75 will die and 40 will survive with long-term problems.
“Where screening programmes have been introduced, including in the United States, Spain, Australia and France, reported cases of GBS infection in newborn babies have fallen by 86%, 86%, 82% and 71% respectively.
“I am hopeful that a timescale for the introduction of screening will be agreed following this useful meeting with the Group Strep B support team, other MPs and the Health Minister.
“Indeed, I will be continuing to support this important campaign aimed at encouraging all levels of government to embrace the case for screening and make a good change happen.”