EVEN though it has taken a 15-year campaign, the news that the 75,000 or so babies born every year are to be screened for cystic fibrosis is very welcome.
It is doubly so as we have one of the world’s highest incidence of the disease, a rate four times that recorded in America or in the rest of Europe.
Despite this, we have a very poor record in providing appropriate care for cystic fibrosis sufferers in many of our hospitals. Isolation units are not always available and those with already weakened immune systems run the risk of contracting further infections.
About 50 babies a year are born with the disease. Screening will not prevent or cure the disease but it will identify children who need early support if the disease is not to delay their development.
Now that the decision to screen infants has been made, our new health minister must ensure that the support the children identified with the disease will need is in place.
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