Mary Robinson Addresses Primary Care Conference at NUI Galway

Friday, 11 July 2008

Speaking at NUI Galway last night, former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, called for a human rights approach to healthcare and greater accountability, nationally and internationally. She said that such a principled approach to healthcare was needed, especially in the face of a possible global recession as in "hard times it is more difficult to make the right decisions". Mary Robinson was addressing the 2008 Annual Scientific Meeting of the Society for Academic Primary Care (SAPC), a major international healthcare conference hosted by the University's Department of General Practice. According to Mary Robinson, who is now President of Realizing Rights, the Ethical Globalization Initiative: "Policy interventions that are grounded in human rights with a strong gender dimension can help inform and support efforts to strengthen health systems and improve their performance. Human rights require not only that quality health systems are available and accessible to all, but that positive action is taken to address the economic, social and political inequalities behind mortality and ill-health. A human rights approach helps to ensure a holistic and integrated approach to health delivery, with a focus on prevention." Among the audience were leading healthcare academics and researchers from Ireland, UK, Australia and the US. The audience heard from other speakers during the three-day conference on topics such as: Gaining insight into the awareness, understanding and attitudes of patients towards MRSA; Predictors of outcome for mild to moderate depression in primary care; and Patient's experience when visiting their GP. Professor Andrew Murphy, Department of General Practice and conference chair, NUI Galway, said, "The issue of health as a human right has been reflected in many of the conference papers at this event. On a macro level, healthcare is a human right and on an individual level it is a very unique interaction between caregiver and patient. One of the emerging themes in this field is the vital role that patients can play in the management of their own care and the importance of data management and privacy." At the event Anne Rogers, Professor of the Sociology of Health Care, University of Manchester spoke about the 'expert patient' and enhancing the self management capabilities of people living with long-term conditions. Professor Tom Fahey, from the RCSI Medical School, spoke about the how Information and Communication Technology (ICT) will help facilitate high quality evidence-based practice (incorporating diagnosis, prognosis and therapy) in primary care. For more information about the conference visit www.sapc.ac.uk
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