– Release date: 03 May 2002
The Irish Family Planning Association has said that the healthcare needs of young people are being ignored because the political establishment is afraid to implement policies in response to their very specific requirements.
"Most young people in the 18-25 age group are healthy and lead active lifestyles. Consequently their healthcare requirements are limited. However, they do have very specific sexual and reproductive healthcare needs which are not being catered for because politicians are afraid to broach the issue," said IFPA Chief Executive, Tony O'Brien.
Tony O'Brien was speaking at the opening of the IFPA's new Everywoman Centre in Cathal Brugha Street, Dublin 1 today.
"The reality is that most young people are sexually active and they require the health services to ensure that they enjoy fulfilling and healthy sexual relations. But because of an absence of specific health services for young people, crisis pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Infections are on the increase in Ireland.
"Sex education in our schools and communities is still very patchy and, in most cases, even where Relationships and Sexuality Education exists in schools, many young people are not receiving information about contraception or Sexually Transmitted Infections.
"The IFPA believes that better sex education and self-esteem programmes for young people, coupled with free access to contraception could play a critical role in reducing crisis pregnancies and STIs.
"Once a new Government has been formed, the IFPA will be pushing hard for free access to contraception for young people under 25 years because this is the age-group we see most through our Pregnancy Counselling service.
"The cost of a doctor's appointment and contraception can be a real issue for young people on low incomes. Free access to sexual and reproductive healthcare services for the under-25's would not alone increase the take-up of contraception, but it would provide opportunities for doctors to discuss the implications of casual and unprotected sex with young clients. Free access would provide choice to young people about the doctor or family planning service they can access."
Commenting on the newly opened IFPA facilities, Tony O'Brien said, "Our new Everywoman Centre is a state-of-the art facility which offers a range of services including contraception, vasectomy, morning-after-pill and non-directive pregnancy counselling. This development has cost the IFPA 750,000 euro, which is only a fraction of the amount of money spend on the Government's recent abortion referendum."