Sexual Health Strategy

Question Time — Scottish Executive – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:30 pm on 26th June 2003.

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Photo of Mike Rumbles Mike Rumbles Liberal Democrat 2:30 pm, 26th June 2003

To ask the Scottish Executive when its sexual health strategy will be implemented. (S2O-276)

Photo of Malcolm Chisholm Malcolm Chisholm Labour

An expert group has been taking forward the preparation of a national sexual health strategy. A report for public consultation will be published by autumn 2003.

Photo of Mike Rumbles Mike Rumbles Liberal Democrat

Does the minister agree that there has been a worrying rise in the number of sexually transmitted diseases, with chlamydia rising by 100 per cent, gonorrhoea rising by 52 per cent and new HIV cases rising by 60 per cent in the past four years? Will he describe how the sexual health strategy will tackle prevention as well as cure?

Photo of Malcolm Chisholm Malcolm Chisholm Labour

There were three strands to the remit that I gave the group that is considering the matter. One strand was to enhance the provision of sexual health services. The other strands were to reduce unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections and—crucially—to promote a broad understanding of sexual health and sexual relationships that encompasses emotions, attitudes and social context. We want to take a much broader view of the matter than has been taken in the past and I look forward to receiving the recommendations so that we can carry on with the consultation.

Photo of Susan Deacon Susan Deacon Labour

Will the minister join me in welcoming the most recent statistics, which show a reduction in the number of teenage pregnancies in Scotland? However, does he agree that a great deal more still needs to be done in that area? Will he therefore give an assurance that the issue will be actively and fully addressed in the forthcoming sexual health strategy and thereafter in its implementation?

Photo of Malcolm Chisholm Malcolm Chisholm Labour

I can certainly give Susan Deacon that assurance. I am sure that we all want to pay tribute to her work in the area. We are building on the foundations that she created. For example, the healthy respect demonstration project, which is a testing ground for issues, has been feeding into the work of the strategy. Earlier this year, we also set up a sexual health and well-being learning network, which is disseminating information about what works and examples of good practice.

Photo of Carolyn Leckie Carolyn Leckie SSP

Given the inequalities in access to termination services that have been evidenced in areas such as the Greater Glasgow NHS Board area, will the strategy include initiatives to eradicate such inequalities?

Photo of Malcolm Chisholm Malcolm Chisholm Labour

The provision of sexual health services is one of the key strands of the strategy, so that issue is part of the strategy that we must keep in mind.