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New Sex Strategy 2005-01-28

Posted by clype in Health, Intolerance, Scotland.
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Young people should be informed about ‘sexual health’ services and have access to them, according to ‘The Scottish Executive’s’ new strategy: ‘The Action Plan’ for ‘Improving Sexual Health’, unveiled on Thursday 2005-01-27, stresses the need for respect and taking responsibility for ‘sexual health’.

The issue of sex education, particularly in ‘Roman Christian’ schools, has already provoked controversy. The strategy is aimed at tackling high rates of ‘STDs‘ and ‘unwanted’ pregnancy.

ACTION PLAN FOR IMPROVING SEXUAL HEALTH:

  • A balance between government action and the individual’s responsibility for their own health and the safety of others;
  • A focus on respect and responsibility as the cornerstones of mature and loving relationships;
  • Redesigned ‘sexual health’ services to ensure improved access in all areas of the country;
  • 15 million GBP additional funding over three years;
  • National leadership through the creation of a ‘National Sexual Health Advisory Committee’;
  • Strategic leaders for ‘sexual health’ in NHS Boards and Local Authorities;
  • Continued education to raise awareness of the issues relating to good ‘sexual health’.

Health Minister Mr.Andy Kerr said ‘real change’ could be ‘delivered’. He said:

[Picture of Andy Kerr]
‘We respect the right of faith groups and others to hold on to and promote their religious, moral and spiritual values.
‘But in return we also expect respect for the rights of young people to have knowledge of, and access to,

‘sexual health’ services so that they can make informed choices’.

The policy aims to tackle the causes behind the incidence of ‘sexually transmitted’ infections across all age groups and unintended ‘teenage’ pregnancies.

Other factors covered by the strategy are overcoming ’embarrassment’, the ‘quality of relationships’ and ‘abstinence’ or delayed sexual ‘activity’.

The Health Minister also stressed that ‘The morning-after pill’ would not be available in schools.

  • All schools — including ‘Roman Christian’ schools — will be expected to follow national guidelines, but head teachers will have the final say.

Ministers are to spend an extra 15 million GBP over three years on the strategy.

  • Scotland has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in Europe, while infections such as ‘gonorrhoea’ and ‘chlamydia’ have been on the rise in recent years, with the latter increasing by 39 per cent between 1999 and 2002.

The reforms were first suggested by an expert group 14 months ago, but ‘The Scottish Executive’, mindful of likely controversies, has been careful not to rush the issue.

Reacting to the ‘sexual health’ strategy, the ‘Roman Christian Church’s’ Cardinal Mr.Keith O’Brien welcomed the emphasis on ‘marriage’ and ‘abstinence’. He said he recognised that current approaches to ‘sexual health’ had failed, but said there were areas of the strategy which could not be reconciled with the church. The Cardinal said:

[Picture of Keith O'Brien]
‘Among them is the continued support for the distribution of “The morning-after pill” to schoolchildren without parental consent through pharmacists, general practitioners and clinics.

‘I hope such areas of disagreement will be the subject of debate and discussion by the new National Advisory Committee announced today and I underline the willingness of the church to participate in its work’.

Education Minister Mr.Peter Peacock said:

[Picture of Peter Peacock]
‘The strategy published today does nothing to change national policy on sex and relationships education.

‘It simply reinforces the principles on which the guidelines are based, and reiterates the need to involve parents, carers and the wider community in the development and revision of sex and relationships education programmes’.

‘The Scottish Green Party’ said that ‘The Scottish Executive’ must guard against ‘postcode lottery’. Scottish Green MSP Mr.Patrick Harvie said:

[Picture of Patrick Harvie]
‘If young people’s access to services and education is dependent on where they live, or which school they go to, the strategy will have failed an important test.

‘It must be a strategy for all of Scotland’.

‘The Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party’ health spokesman Mr.David Davidson said blanket measures for ‘sex education’ were not the answer. He said:

[Picture of David Davidson]
‘We cannot have a simple uniform approach to this…

‘Schools and parents should be trusted to teach their pupils and children as they see fit, and the emphasis in this case must be on teaching what is in their best interests’.

‘The Scottish National Party’ welcomed the strategy but questioned the level of investment. Their health spokesman Ms.Shona Robison said:

[Picture of Shona Robison]
‘With only 5 million GBP/year pledged to support the strategy, we need to ensure that this cash is sufficient to do the job.

‘In comparison, John Reid has budgeted 300 million GBP for a similar programme in England & Wales’.

In addition, ‘The Scottish NHS Confederation’ appealed for ‘full, unequivocal backing’ for NHS boards in implementing the policy. Confederation director Ms.Hilary Robertson said:

‘”Sexual health” is often an unpopular destination for NHS resources — in the eyes of the public, the media and some ‘interest’ groups.

‘Local NHS systems must therefore be confident that they will receive the full backing of “The Scottish Executive” for funding decisions designed to implement the action points set out in the strategy published today’.

‘The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV’ (BASHH) welcomed the move as ‘fantastic milestone’ for ‘sexual health’ in Scotland.

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