SDLP Health Spokesperson Mark H Durkan in conjunction with the charity Group B Step Support and other political representatives, is to write to the Department of Health to request an urgent meeting to discuss Northern Ireland’s Group B Strep prevention policy.
The letter follows his call for the introduction of a routine Group B Strep screening programme to prevent new-born babies becoming seriously ill and dying from the infection.
Mr Durkan said a cross-party approach is essential to secure this vital screening for all pregnant women.
Said the Foyle MLA: “It is entirely unacceptable that a baby born in the North has a higher risk of developing Group B Strep infection than elsewhere.
“Through the charity Group B Strep Support, myself and other politicians will press upon the Department, the urgent need for a routine screening programme.
“GBS is one of the most common causes of life-threatening infections in new born babies.
“Considering a test only costs an estimated £11 per person, routine Group Step B screening is clearly more cost effective than the current approach.
“This minor expense would prevent the unimaginable pain of losing a new-born child as a result of this infection- as such, it is vital we move this issue forward as quickly as possible.
“The SDLP has raised this matter previously, including with former Prime Minister David Cameron. And whilst changes in regard to information campaigns have been implemented, it does not go far enough.
“Routine screening programmes in other countries, including Spain and France, have seen reported cases of GBS infection fall dramatically.
“It’s time we offered the same protections and support to parents here.”