Mayo native appointed interim CMO

Professor Breda Smyth. Photo: Saolta Hospital Group

Professor Breda Smyth. Photo: Saolta Hospital Group

Mayo native Professor Breda Smyth has been appointed interim Chief Medical Officer (CMO ) at the Department of Health, to replace the retiring Dr Tony Holohan who will step down from the role on July 1.

The role of the (CMO ) became one of the most recognisable roles in the country during the Covid-19 pandemic, with the CMO becoming a familiar face across the media updating the public on the latest information during the pandemic.

Professor Smyth who is a native of Straide, has extensive clinical experience and has specialised 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 and will be seconded to the Department on a short-term basis, until the position is filled on a permanent basis.

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. Professor Smyth was also a founding member of the Covid-19 - Irish Epidemiology Modelling Advisory Group (IEMAG ).

Making the announcement Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said: "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. She has contributed significantly to the national response to Covid-19 in her many roles throughout the management of the pandemic.

"Professor Smyth brings this considerable experience, excellent leadership ability and extensive public health skillset to the role and I very much look forward to working with her. I thank Professor Smyth for agreeing to fill the role on an interim basis until the completion of an open competition for a permanent CMO."

Professor Smyth said: "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.”

Castlebar based Fine Gael councillor Ger Deere welcomed the announcement saying: "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."


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