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COUNCIL ROLE IN ACTION PLAN TO IMPROVE SEXUAL HEALTH

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A range of measures to tackle Scotland's sexual health problems have been published....
A range of measures to tackle Scotland's sexual health problems have been published.

Respect and Responsibility - Strategy and Action Plan for Improving Sexual Health - Scotland's first strategy for sexual health - sets out clear challenges for government, NHS boards, local authorities and other agencies to deliver better sexual health services across the country.

It also makes clear that individuals have a responsibility for their own health and for the safety of others.

The strategy clearly promotes the values of mature loving relationships, founded on self respect and respect for others.

Health minister Andy Kerr said:

'This is an ambitious and wide-ranging plan but it can and will deliver real change. It sets out a long-term programme for achieving our vision for improving sexual health in Scotland. The challenge now is to turn these words into action.

'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.

'We will deliver on this action which will directly improve the equity of access to services across Scotland. It will also directly tackle the causes behind the incidence of sexually transmitted infections across all age groups and unintended teenage pregnancies. We must encourage people to talk about sexual health and the problems it can bring. We must remove the embarrassment factor if we are to see improvements.

'We know that success will not be achieved overnight. But if we all - statutory and voluntary organisations, faith groups and individuals - pursue the principles of respect and responsibility it will help us along the way to improved sexual well-being in Scotland and help build stronger communities.

'This strategy is firmly based on the principles of self respect, respect for others and strong relationships. Respect and responsibility are also key messages that are passed on by parents and families in shaping the lives of their children. But the right focus for us in the Scottish Executive in the action we take to promote sexual health, is on the quality of relationships rather than on family form or on issues of legal status. Abstinence, or sexual activity which is delayed until a mature, loving relationship is established, are approaches we support.'

The action plan will deliver:

* a balance between what government should do to help people avoid contracting or spreading sexually transmitted disease or an unintended pregnancy and the individual's responsibility for their own health and the safety of others

* a strong focus on respect and responsibility as the cornerstones of mature and loving relationships and the guiding principle for our action as government

* redesigned sexual health services to ensure improved access in all areas of the country

*£15m additional funding over three years to deliver these improvements

* national leadership through the creation of a national sexual health advisory committee to be chaired by the minister for health

* local leadership: NHS boards and local authorities must identify strategic leaders for sexual health so that there is better planning for the future

* continued education to raise awareness of the issues relating to good sexual health

Education minister Peter Peacock said:

'Schools and teachers have clear guidelines on which to base sex and relationships education. These ensure pupils only receive information and advice which is appropriate to their age.

'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£15m additional funding will be made available over three years from 2005-06 to 2007-08. This will be broken down as£5m each year. The majority of the additional finance will be spent on improving frontline services.

The£15m is new money which is in additional to the resources -£10.284m in 2004-05 - already being spent by NHS boards and other agencies taking forward sexual health initiatives on behalf of the Executive.

NHS board also spend money from their own budgets on sexual health services in their local areas.

Two seminars will be held shortly - the first on 16 February - with an aim of securing ownership and driving forward implementation. The first will be aimed at those involved in the provision of clinical services. The second will bring together all others who will be involved with the implementation of the action.

Here are links to the McCabe recommendation on sex education in schools and the supporting papers that were issued by the Executive:

McCabe report: http:www.scotland.gov.uk/library2/doc16/sess-00.asp

Parents leaflet:

http:www.scotland.gov.uk/library3/education/a5parents.pdf

Education Authorities Consultation leaflet: http:www.scotland.gov.uk/library3/education/a4consultation.pdf

Summary of National Advice: http:www.scotland.gov.uk/library3/education/natadvice.pdf

The analysis of the consultation responses is available at

http:www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/Recent

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