Global Health Writes
Citizen Journalist: Richeal Nic An Ri
Here in an energetic atmosphere and a full house of eager students, exhibitors and teachers from all over Ireland—yes, it is the BT 2015 Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition at the Royal Dublin Society (RDS)! Now in its prime 51st year of exhibition, it is one of the longest standing exhibitions of its kind in the world. This year the exhibition boasts a record breaking number of entries from individual schools.
This year marks the sixth consecutive year for the Health Products and Regulatory Authority (HPRA) to exhibit at the event. The role of the HPRA (previously recognized under the name of The Irish Medicines Board) is to protect and enhance public and animal health by regulating health products. They represent a state body with regulatory functions ranging from the assessment of human and veterinary medicines, to the monitoring of medical devices, cosmetic products and scientific animal protection.
The HPRA exhibitors took their stand to the centre of the World of Science and Technology Hall. The stand provided onlookers with a chance to enter a competition to win an iPod Touch and take part in an interactive quiz about medical devices. In addition, students were given the opportunity to participate in live experiments demonstrating the importance of avoiding counterfeit medicines. With such eye catching experiments, vivid displays, friendly exhibitors, and give-aways, it was hard to walk by without giving things a closer look.
The response from the students was positive and many expressed a genuine interest in learning about the HPRA. The competition and prizes naturally attracted a large crowd, as did the screen displaying informational video and the quiz testing knowledge about medical devices. These activities were set up to engage with the students. The interactive quiz was particularly popular and allowed students of all ages to learn about different types of medical devices. From wheelchairs to contact lenses, there were fun facts to be learned about the medical devices industry. Prizes were awarded to students who took part and responded correctly. It was a great way to increase the memory efficiency of enthusiastic participants!
Indeed, the HPRA have its own medicinal reporting system for members of the public as well as healthcare professionals. Many were interested to learn that they can report safety and quality concerns regarding suspected adverse reactions (ARs) directly to the HPRA. Each submitted report is carefully reviewed and analysed within the context of overall data and experience. The HPRA monitors for trends and ensures that the appropriate regulatory action is then taken. It was truly worthwhile to have the opportunity to explain this reporting process to exhibition goers.
As an exhibitor, I enjoyed interacting with all the young scientists in attendance. The willingness of the students to learn and participate during the demonstrations and experiments was very encouraging. From the risks of buying medicines online to the use of medicines in clinical trials; the questions posed were diverse and plenty. During the medical device quiz the students were engaged and knew every answer —one child even corrected my spelling of the word stethoscope (very embarrassing!).
Below is a photo of the HPRA exhibitors closing the end of the day with sore legs but in good spirits all the same. From left to right: Ivana, Richeal, Ciara and Louisa.
The HPRA stand seemed to fit in well at the exhibition. At one stage there was very little time to take a break and the stand was swamped! However, when the band ‘Hometown‘ showed up to play, it was hard to compete. Lucky for us there were a few die-hard enthusiasts still interested in what we had to offer—glad to know in some circumstances science still prevails!
Richeal Nic An Ri
Health Products Regulatory Authority
An tÚdarás Rialála Táirgí Sláinte