Investment Needed In Sexual & Reproductive Health

Published: Fri 21 Nov 2003 03:17 PM
21 November, 2003
Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) statistics confirm a high level of unprotected sex in New Zealand. The statistics tell a grim story FPA Executive Director, Dr Gill Greer, has told the association’s annual Forum in Wellington today.
An aspect of the figures released this week by the Institute of Environmental Science and Research, is a huge variation in the number of women diagnosed with Chlamydia compared to men.
Dr Greer said all the male statistics in all the areas where the data is collected – Auckland, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty are much smaller than the female figures and this highlights the likelihood of significant undiagnosed chlamydia. (Refer STI Surveillance).
“It’s no wonder New Zealand is nicknamed the chlamydia capital of the world.
“We are in a crisis – how much worse does it have to get before something is done.”
Dr Greer said it was no coincidence that the rates are high in areas of social and economic deprivation.
“Social inequalities result in health inequalities which are then reflected in the sexual and reproductive health of New Zealanders.”
Dr Greer said the time had come to take action and for the Government to demonstrate real political will by investing across all sectors in programmes and policies that reduce the disparities.
“I’m talking about education, housing, employment and making sure our young people have hope of a meaningful life.
“We must learn from countries like the Netherlands and the United Kingdom that have both successfully reduced teenage pregnancy and STI statistics. Those countries commit significant funding across all ministries and agencies and the United Kingdom is now seeing a 10 percent decrease in teenage pregnancy in the under 18 year age group.”
Dr Greer said it was important that NGO’s like FPA maintain the right to advocate for public health policy that will improve the health of New Zealanders. Where NGO’s receive Government funding it is vital there be transparency concerning its use, but the freedom to raise awareness of issues must be protected.
“I have raised many of these issues before and will continue to call for increased investment in sexual and reproductive health,” Dr Greer said.

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