– Release date: 23 April 2002
The Irish Family Planning Association has heavily criticised the Department of Health over its decision to delete questions relating to sexual behaviour among young people in a survey by the World Health Organisation.
IFPA Chief Executive, Tony O'Brien, commented:"The Department's decision reflects the overall approach by this Government to reproductive and sexual health. During the five-year life-time of this administration we have witnessed rising abortion rates and an increase in sexually transmitted infections. Yet, in spite of this, there have been no new programmes to reverse these trends.
"The policy of this Government in relation to sexual health has been once of complacency. It's interference in the WHO survey shows a determination to live in ignorance of the reality of sexual activism among young people. In fact, the Government has decided to hand over all responsibility for sexual health programmes to the new Crisis Pregnancy Agency.
"Given the Government’s interference with the WHO questionnaire, we are now concerned that the new Crisis Pregnancy Agency will not have the freedom to carry out research among young people in relation to their sexual habits and experiences. Without such concrete research, it will be difficult for the Agency to implement tailor-made programmes to reduce crisis pregnancies in this age group.
"There continues to be a huge information gap about the levels of awareness of sexual health and contraception among young people. The information deficit is enormous. The WHO questionnaire could play a big role in filling this information gap. However, it seems that the Government would prefer to pretend that young people do not have sex and are afraid to find out about their experiences."