11/21/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/20/2023 19:01
The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has announced the appointment of Professor Mary Horgan to lead the design of a new emerging health threats agency.
The agency will build on existing assets and infrastructure to focus on infectious diseases, pandemic preparedness, and other emerging threats to public health.
Professor Mary Horgan is Professor of Infectious Diseases at University College Dublin (UCD) and the Mater Misericordiae Hospital. She recently completed her second term as President of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland. She served as President of the Infectious Diseases Society of Ireland. She also served on the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) and led the expert advisory group on rapid testing and chaired Ireland's first National Research Ethics Committee.
Mary Hogan's appointment follows consideration of the Report of the Public Health Reform Expert Advisory Group (PHREAG), who were requested to examine the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Ireland.
Professor Horgan will report directly to the Minister, providing monthly progress reports as the new agency comes to fruition to focus on infectious diseases, pandemic preparedness, and other emerging threats to public health.
Speaking on the appointment, Minister Donnelly said:
"I am delighted to appoint Professor Mary Horgan to spearhead the creation of a new dedicated public health agency. This new agency will ensure strengthened preparedness, by consolidating existing expertise across the health service together with additional external resources and expertise.
"Through her various roles in our health service, Mary has contributed valuable knowledge and expertise, shaping patient care. Her practical advice as a member of NPHET, encouraging the uptake of vaccines and guidance as the country began to emerge from the pandemic reflects skills that will be instrumental in strengthening Ireland's preparedness for future health threats."
Speaking on her appointment Professor Mary Horgan said:
"I am honoured to be appointed to lead the team that will design this new health agency. Together we will collaborate to ensure Ireland is well prepared for future public health threats, including pandemics."
A proposal on the scope and functions of the agency will be brought to Government within six months.
A world-renowned expert in infectious disease, Professor Mary Horgan recently completed her second term as President of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland - the first female in this role since its establishment in 1654. She is Professor of Infectious Diseases at UCD and Mater Misericordiae Hospital.
Originally from Kerry, Professor Horgan graduated from UCD in 1986. She was awarded her MD in 1995, MRCPI in 1988 and FRCPI in 1997. During her career, Mary has become a national and international leader in medical education and training, in infectious disease and public health and has spearheaded medical education and scientific education in Ireland. Mary's work to date in this field has been instrumental in reversing the downward trend in uptake of HPV vaccination from 50% to 71% in one year.
Previously Dean of the Medical School in UCC in 2013 for a four-year term, Mary has become a role model for a generation of medical graduates and trainees. Mary also served as President of the Infectious Diseases Society of Ireland, on the boards of the Health Products Regulatory Authority, Irish Blood Transfusion Service and the Mercy University Hospital and the Governing Body of University College Cork. She is Director of Education in the European Society of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology (ESMCID).
The establishment of the new agency follows consideration of the report of the Public Health Reform Expert Advisory Group. The Group was Chaired by Professor Hugh Brady, President-designate of Imperial College London, current Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Bristol and former President of University College Dublin. The Group was requested to examine the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Ireland.
The Group was independent and was responsible for the organisation and direction of its work, with administrative support provided by a secretariat from the Department of Health.
The Group's work was informed by presentations on policy, reform and operational activity, a consultation and engagement process with organisations and individuals working in public health in Ireland, key stakeholder meetings, a consultation with vulnerable groups and significant inputs from both the WHO and HIQA.
Their Report, published in September, concluded that Ireland performed well in response to COVID-19, highlighting the fact that Ireland's excess mortality was among the lowest in Europe and globally.