Ireland's shockingly high cancer rates have been branded 'a legacy of Fianna Fáil's failed health policies' by an angry Irish MEP this week.
Ireland East MEP Nessa Childers, a member of the European Parliament's influential Public Health Committee, was responding to a new report which shows that Ireland has the highest mortality rate in Europe for breast cancer alongside Denmark. 31% of breast cancer sufferers in Ireland die of the disease, according to the study published by the European Commission.
Nessa Childers, who helped to draft an ambitious EU plan to tackle cancer, said there is a 'significant gulf' between Europe's cancer strategy and the policies pursued by the Irish government.
She pointed out that European strategy aims to dramatically reduce the burden of cancer by achieving 100 per cent coverage in terms of screening for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer over the next five years.
"As it stands, the Minister for Health plans to initially commence free screening for the 60-69 age group in 2012, with an expansion of the programme envisaged but only if resources permit," said Ms Childers.
"Ireland needs to take inspiration from Europe's leadership and tackle this whole area much more comprehensively," she added.
The EU report also aims for all member states to have integrated cancer plans by the end of 2013, which should result in a 15% reduction in cancer cases by 2020.