Professor Breda Smyth. Photo: Aengus McMahon.

Mayo woman appointed interim Chief Medical Officer

MAYO woman Professor Breda Smyth has been appointed interim Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health.

She will take up the role from July 4, pending the completion of the competition to fill the role on a permanent basis.

Dr. Tony Holohan will resign as CMO on July 1 after 14 years in the role.

Professor Smyth comes from a well-known family in Straide and has extensive clinical experience, specialising in public health for the last 16 years.

She is currently Professor for Public Health Medicine in NUI Galway and Consultant in Public Health in HSE West.

Professor Smyth contributed significantly to Ireland’s Covid-19 response having been a member of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), the Rapid Testing Expert Advisory Group, Chief Investigator on the multi-site study UniCoV study as well as her important duties as the Director of Public Health in HSE West. Prof Smyth was also a founding member of the Covid-19 - Irish Epidemiology Modelling Advisory Group (IEMAG).

Announcing her appointment, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said: “While the open competition for the permanent filling of the crucial role of Chief Medical Officer has commenced, I am conscious of the need to have in place the required leadership at all times to continue to monitor and combat Covid-19 and other public health threats.

“Professor Smith has a unique skill set with the requisite mix of academic, policy and frontline experience having provided leadership, expert and professional guidance of Public Health nationally and in HSE West over the last number of years.”

Said Professor Smyth: “I am excited to have the opportunity to work together with colleagues in the Department of Health, and across our health and social care service to build on the considerable work done, both before and during Covid-19, to promote and protect public health and the health and wellbeing of the population of Ireland.

“The pandemic has placed a spotlight on public health, and I look forward to the opportunity to advance the public health agenda through important, cross-government initiatives like Healthy Ireland and Sláintecare to improve the health and wellbeing of the entire population including marginalised groups and continuing to address inequities in health.”

An open competition for the permanent position of Chief Medical Officer has been advertised.

Her appointment was welcomed locally by Councillor Ger Deere who said: “Breda comes from a very well-known family in Straide who have been involved in the community for many years.

“Breda and all her family are very accomplished musicians and she has hosted many traditional Irish music TV programmes. Today is a very proud day for the family.

“I wish Breda all the very best in her new role.”