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Health Strategies

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 21 June 2022

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Questions (823)

Emer Higgins

Question:

823. Deputy Emer Higgins asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the fact that Ireland's present National Sexual Health Strategy runs to 2020; if he intends to update the strategy; if he will be consulting on the new strategy; the timeline for the new strategy to be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32546/22]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The National Sexual Health Strategy, 2015-2020, (NSHS) was launched in October 2015.  It takes a life course approach, acknowledging the importance of developing a healthy attitude to sexuality in young people and of building on that foundation for positive sexual health and wellbeing into adulthood and older age. The Strategy has been extended to the end of 2022, in order to account for the various impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on previous timelines. 

Current priority deliverables under the Strategy are HIV prevention, including the continued expansion of a Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) programme, which commenced in late 2019, and the HIV Fast Track Cities programme, involving Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway. Other key areas of work include expanding access to contraception, free of charge; expanding sexually transmitted infection (STI) services, progressing a population survey on sexual health and improving sexual health education, training and resources, including in schools, higher and further education.

A review of the Strategy began in 2021, having been postponed as a result of the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Focus group meetings were held with key stakeholders, including clinical and public health staff, the HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme (SHCPP) team, those working in STI clinics, the education sector, the Department of Health and Women’s Health Taskforce, the research and academic sector and organisations representing the LGBTI+ community.

The detailed feedback from these meetings has been collated and will inform the future direction of the next iteration of the strategy. An external review of the Strategy has been approved and is currently being commissioned through standard procurement processes. It is envisaged that the procurement process will conclude by July, with the Review to take 3-4 months once commenced. When complete, the Report will be published on the Healthy Ireland website.

Results will, in turn, inform future policy direction and the Women's Health Taskforce will continue to provide input as the policy is implemented. Following the completion of the Review, and taking into account its recommendations, drafting of a renewed National Sexual Health Strategy will commence. 

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