Time to bring forward new sexual health strategy for our most deprived young people, says Bradshaw

Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has called on the Public Health Agency to not waste any more time in bringing forward a new sexual health strategy for Northern Ireland.

The South Belfast MLA was speaking after the Department of Health published the Health Inequalities Annual Report 2018, which presents an analysis of health inequality gaps between the most and least deprived areas of Northern Ireland.

Among other things, it states the teenage birth rate is six times greater for young women in the most deprived areas compared to those living in the least deprived.

“The last Sexual Health Promotion Strategy was for 2008-13, it then received an addendum bringing it up to 2015. However, since this time there has a less than adequate departmental focus for this work,” said Ms Bradshaw.

“While the Public Health Agency has for some time been reporting it is working on a new one, we are now heading into a three-year gap, with no indication of when this strategy will be launched. There is then the worrying consideration of ensuring the strategy is properly resourced so targets can be met and outcomes achieved.

“We cannot continue to deny those young women and men living in our most deprived communities access to education and support to ensure informed decisions are taken around sexual activity, to ultimately address this important aspect of health inequalities.”

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