Health Protection Unit

Functions and Responsibilities

  • Monitor the incidence of Notifiable infectious diseases in the context of the International Health Regulations
  • Public Health Emergency Planning (including pandemic influenza)
  • Monitor uptake of Childhood and Adult Immunisation

Key objectives and strategies

To develop policy and the legislative framework to support public health protection through: control of infectious diseases; national immunisation and vaccination programmes; appropriate national public health emergency planning (including pandemic influenza); contributing to European and international developments in public health policy; and monitoring the implementation by the HSE of all such policy and legislation.


Health Act, 1947 to 2004

Infectious Diseases Regulations, 1981 (SI No 390/1981) specifies IDs and their pathogens in schedule, provides for diagnosis and treatment of IDs, prevention of spread of IDs and notification process. Amended by-

S.I. No 268/1985 – Schedule amended to include specified STDs

S.I. No 288/1988 – Amended to include mumps

S.I. No.384/1996 – Amended to include CJD & nvCJD

S.I. No 151/2000 – Health Boards to notify National Disease Surveillance Centre instead of Minister

S.I. No 115/2003 (1) – Inclusion of SARS

S.I. No 180/2003 (2) – Inclusion of SARS as exception under art. 8 (re Sec38 of 1947Act)

S.I. No 707/2003 (3) – Replaces Schedule; lab directors also required to notify IDs; NDSC role

S.I. No 865/2004 – Provides for notification to HPSC instead of NDSC; updated definition ‘med officer of health’

S.I. No 559/2007 – Allows for establishment of HSE; updates re. flu &CJD

S.I. No 4/2008 - Infectious Diseases (Shipping) Regulations, 2008 replaced Infectious Diseases (Shipping) Regulations, 1948. Changes were required to conform with standards set by International Health Regulations adopted by WHO in 2005 regarding prevention of danger to public and crews from Infectious Diseases, restrictions on boarding and leaving vessel, powers to detain ship. Etc

S.I. No 411/2009 - Infectious Diseases (Aircraft) Regulations, 2009 replaced Infectious Diseases (Aircraft) Regulations, 1948. As above, changes to conform with International Health Regulation standards, authorising measures to be taken to protect travellers on aircraft, etc.

S.I. No 452/2011 - Infectious Diseases (Amendment) Regulations, 2011 amend the Schedule to the Infectious Diseases Regulations, 1981, (as amended), to remove acute gastroenteritis from the list of infectious diseases which require to be notified; and to include a number of additional infectious diseases which require to be notified.

S.I. No. 556 of 2011 - Health Professionals (Reduction of Payments to General Practitioners) (National Immunisations Programmes) Regulations 2011

Agencies/Service Providers/Working Groups

  • Health Service ExecutiveThe HSE has statutory responsibility for Health Protection under the Health Acts e.g. in relation to the diagnoses, treatment, prevention and immunisation against infectious disease.
  • Health Protection Surveillance CentreThe Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) is Ireland's specialist agency for the surveillance of communicable diseases.
  • HPSC is part of the Health Service Executive and works in partnership with health service providers and sister organisations in Ireland and around the world, to provide the best possible information for the control and prevention of infectious diseases.
  • National Immunisation Office (of the HSE) The National Immunisation Office (NIO) oversees the day-to-day Implementation of the national immunisation programme by the Health Service Executive. The NIO is responsible for the procurement and distribution of vaccine within the cold chain. It also provides up-to-date information leaflets for parents and health-care professionals and hosts a website.
  • Institute of Public Health The Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH) promotes cooperation for public health between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland by:-
    • strengthening public health intelligence;
    • building public health capacity;
    • policy and programme development and evaluation.
  • Irish Medicines Board The Irish Medicines Board (IMB) protects and enhances public and animal health through the regulation of medicines, medical devices and healthcare products.
  • Contact this Unit

    Principal Officer Dr Colette Bonner
    Assistant Principal Officers Nuala O'Reilly Michael Smith
    Telephone: 01 - 635 4344
    Fax: 01 - 635 4375

    Section 15, Freedom of Information Act

    Classes of Records held: Non-Personal: Records relating to functions outlined above including correspondence, memoranda, briefings, minutes and submissions. Personal: Ministerial Representations, correspondence from individuals and health agencies, legal cases and medical records as part of agencies’ obligation by statute to report certain information.

    Significant Systems None

    Information Routinely Published: N/A

    Personal Information Holdings Personal information may be contained in Ministerial Representations, correspondence from individuals and health agencies, legal cases and medical records as part of agencies’ obligation by statute to report certain information.

    Notes: Requests for administrative access considered on a case by case basis.