SEXUAL HEALTH: SCOTLAND

Published: 03/02/2005, Volume II4, No. 5941 Page 8

After five years of heated debate, Scotland's first sexual health strategy was finally unveiled last week amid claims that it was underfunded and not sufficiently bold.

The Strategy and Action Plan for Improving Sexual Health aims to cut Scotland's teenage pregnancy rates, which are among the worst in Europe, and curb the rise in sexual infections.

Health minister Andy Kerr has pledged£15m of additional funding over the next three years to implement the strategy, which contains a mix of a focus on individual responsibility and respect in sexual relationships, improved access to services and 'continued' sex education.

NHS boards and local authorities will have to identify strategic leaders for sexual health and there will be a national sexual health advisory committee to be chaired by Mr Kerr.

Former health minister Susan Deacon criticised the strategy for a lack of boldness while SNP health spokeswoman Shona Robison said it had been too long in the making and was not backed by sufficient resources.

Scottish NHS Confederation director Hilary Robertson called on the executive to give 'unequivocal backing' to NHS boards in the practical implementation of the strategy, given that 'sexual health is often an unpopular destination for NHS resources in the eyes of the public, the media and some interest groups'.

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