Dear Taoiseach,

As an organisation dedicated to supporting individuals affected by Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, we extend our warmest congratulations on your recent appointment as Taoiseach.

We are writing to you today with a special appreciation for your unique understanding of the challenges faced by those living with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, as someone who also lives with Crohn's disease. Your first-hand experience with these conditions provides invaluable insight into the daily struggles, fears, and aspirations of the IBD community.

Taoiseach, we respectfully urge you to use your platform to advocate for the needs of individuals living with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Your voice and leadership can make a profound difference in improving access to healthcare, promoting research, and raising awareness about these often misunderstood conditions.

Our last meeting in 2017 in your capacity as Minister for Health was a very positive and engaging meeting where we discussed our Double Up campaign which resulted in the recruitment of 14 additional IBD nurses across the country to support patients nationwide.

Despite this positive outcome, there are still many areas where support is needed to enhance the lives of those affected by Crohn's and colitis:

Access to Healthcare: Ensure that individuals living with Crohn's and colitis have timely access to specialized healthcare services, including gastroenterologists, IBD nurse specialists, mental health professionals and dietitians. Address barriers to care and work towards equitable healthcare access for all.

Cost of Care: The direct and indirect costs associated with Crohn's and colitis can be substantial. Direct costs include expenses related to hospitalizations, medications, doctor visits, diagnostic tests, and surgical procedures. Indirect costs may include lost productivity, absenteeism from work or school, and reduced quality of life. Financial support can help alleviate the financial burden on individuals and families affected by Crohn's and colitis.

Affordability of Medications: Advocate for measures to improve the affordability and accessibility of essential medications for Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. No one should have to forego treatment due to financial constraints.

Recognition of Disease Severity: Crohn's and colitis can have a significant impact on an individual's quality of life, leading to debilitating symptoms, complications, and limitations in daily activities. Inclusion in the Long Term Illness Scheme would recognize the severity of the condition and provide support to those who need it most.

Taoiseach, your personal journey with Crohn's disease serves as an inspiration to many, and we are confident that your leadership will bring positive change for the IBD community. Crohn's and Colitis Ireland stands ready to collaborate with your government to address the needs of individuals living with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We look forward to the opportunity to work together towards a brighter future for those affected by IBD.

Warm regards,

Bruno Lucas,

Chair, Board of Directors

Crohn's and Colitis Ireland