PROGRESS IS BEING made on the national sexual health strategy, the Minister for Health said this week.
Asked by Deputy Róisín Shortall in the Dáil for the reasons for the delay in the development of a national sexual health strategy and his target month in 2013 for the publication of the strategy, the Minister for Health Dr James Reilly said that it is due in a number of months.
The Health Department commenced the development of a National Sexual Health Strategy on 12 May 2012. “This initiative is intended to formulate a strategic plan for the delivery of services in this area,” said Minister Reilly in a written answer to Deputy Shorthall.
This plan will focus on improving sexual health and wellbeing and address the surveillance, testing, treatment and prevention of HIV and STIs, crisis pregnancy, and sexual health education and promotion. The strategy will be in line with the forthcoming Public Health Policy Framework due to be published next week.
A high-level steering group has been established to lead the development of the strategy. The steering group is overseeing the drafting of the National Sexual Health Strategy, which will take the form of a high-level strategic action plan, said Minister Reilly.
The steering group, supported by a number of working groups set up to address different areas, is making good progress and I expect the final draft strategy to be submitted by June for my consideration.
In November 2012, following a HSE report that showed the number of reported sexually transmitted infections in Ireland rose by over 12 per cent in 2011 compared to 2010, the executive director of Dublin Aids Alliance, Anna Quigley recommended a “targeted and coordinated” approach to improving the access of those who need contraception.
She said that it is important that the National Sexual Health Strategy helps to ensure “improved access to, and distribution of, free condoms for all population groups at risk of HIV and other STIs.”