HC Deb 13 December 1988 vol 143 cc757-8
6. Mr. Rowe

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how he is encouraging health promotion schemes for women.

Mrs. Currie

We are very proud of the action that we have taken to promote women's health. We have implemented screening programmes for breast and cervical cancer to reduce the number of women who die each year from these diseases. The maternal death rate continues to fall. The Health Education Authority is planning to give more prominence to women's health. In June, we sponsored both a debate in this House and a national conference, and this year we are supporting a large number of national voluntary organisations concerned with women's health.

Mr. Rowe

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Although it is true that deaths from cervical cancer have fallen by about 14 per cent. in the past 10 years, the number of deaths is still higher than it should be. Can we hope for improvements in that figure over the next few years?

Mrs. Currie

Yes, it is our hope that the new national call and recall system, which is implemented throughout the country, will bring about a reduction in the toll from this particular preventable cancer.

Mr. Lofthouse

As the Minister still holds the view that most of the eggs in this country are contaminated by salmonella, why has she not included the advice not to eat eggs in her advice for women, under the health promotion scheme?

Mrs. Currie


Hon. Members

Come on.

Mrs. Currie

The hon. Gentleman asked a question and he will get the answer. The Government's view is as follows. Although the risk of harm to any healthy individual from consuming a single raw or partially cooked egg is small, it is advisable for vulnerable people such as the elderly, the sick, babies and pregnant women to consume only eggs that have been cooked until the white and yolk are solid—in other words, hard boiled.

Dame Jill Knight

May I ask my hon. Friend to assure the House that she is as concerned about the health of men at risk as about the health of women at risk?

Mrs. Currie

Yes, very much so. As my hon. Friend will be aware, the main thrust of the heart disease programme—the "Look After Your Heart" campaign—is directed at middle-aged men. I was concerned that we were not doing enough for the health of women and I hope that we have put that right.