Monday, November 7, 2011, 18:10
The final document of the national health strategy was launched this evening by Health Minister Joseph Cassar, who said that its purpose is to promote responsible behaviour and the ability to forge relationships in a way that does not harm physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
Dr Cassar recalled how the policy was launched in November last year and featured a broad consultation process.
He said the strategy had various aspects including education, health services legislative issues, rights, research and supervision.
In the area on sexual health promotion and education, the document underlines the importance of close collaboration with the education authorities for prevention and intervention programmes for different age groups. This includes better preparedness for teachers and coordination between teachers and parents. The programmes in schools would tackle various issues including the hazards of alcohol consumption in relation to sexual behaviour, and sexual health behaviour.
The sexual health services section focuses on the development of preventive health services including a purpose-designed sexual health clinic and a specialist service that is being developed at Mater Dei as the focal point for such services. There will also be a network of primary care specialists.
The policy says that legislative and regulatory frameworks need to be periodically revised in areas such as notification of sexually transmitted diseases, partner notification, sexual orientation and diversity and parental consent.
Five areas of research are identified as part of the strategy: sexual practices across socio-demographic groups, sexuality and relationships education, utilisation of sexual health services, sexual and reproductive health knowledge and attitudes, perceptions and beliefs regarding sexuality and sexual health.
With regard to surveillance, the document says the cases that are currently being notified are thought to be an underestimate of the true numbers for both incidence and prevalence in the general population. Other forms of surveillance are necessary to better measure the true disease burden and to monitor more effectively the situation for relevant trends and developments.
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