NHS Greater Glasgow today welcomed the Scottish Executive's launch of a consultation on a draft national strategy for sexual health.
Sexual health is a key priority for NHS Greater Glasgow. Over the last year NHSGG has introduced a number of new initiatives such as Text4U (the young person's sexual health text service), and has created the new post of Teen Pregnancy Co-ordinator.
Nicky Coia, Senior Health Promotion Officer for NHSGG's Sexual Health Team, welcomed the consultation.
He said: "From a health perspective we are fully supportive of the Executive's intentions and suggested guidelines, as education, support and accessible services are vital in making informed choices about sexual health.
"Young people in particular play a crucial role in shaping the future of Greater Glasgow's sexual health, so the more work that is geared towards empowering them, the better."
So what is NHSGG doing to make this happen?
Principal Health Promotion Officer Phil White, who is at the forefront of young people's health across NHSGG, said: "One example of work that we're doing is the Text4U service, which is proving both popular and effective in helping young people."
He explained: "Basically it's a mobile phone text messaging service that helps young people access information about health services.
"It's being piloted in Glasgow's eastend and was set up by NHS Greater Glasgow and H4U Teen Health – a young person's health service for eastern Glasgow – to give 10-19-year-olds confidential information via their mobiles.
"They can text queries ranging from where to access free contraception, to details of STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) and how to report sexual assault."
All a young person has to do is text a key word on a subject that interests them to 07781 488591. If they are looking for the meaning of a term they type # before the word, e.g. #relationships. For general information on the subject they simply type the word e.g. pregnancy.
Information on services and contact numbers will then be automatically sent back to them.
If the pilot continues to be successful, NHS Greater Glasgow and H4U will look at rolling the initiative out to young people across the Greater Glasgow area.
Phil White went on: "Another example of positive efforts already taking place is the creation of the new post of Teenage Pregnancy Co-ordinator for Greater Glasgow.
"NHSGG and Glasgow City Council are jointly creating the new post in a bid to take a fresh look at reducing teenage parenthood and the exclusion associated with it.
Catriona Renfrew, Chair of NHSGG's Sexual Health Planning Group, added that Teenage Pregnancy Co-ordinator posts have already been created across England. Results have shown youth pregnancy rates decreasing, thanks to increased knowledge and control of sexual relations and improved sexual health services for young people.
She said: "A key aim of the postholder will be to improve teenage parents' opportunities in education and employment and consequently boost their health.
"It will also be crucial to target the most vulnerable young people (such as those leaving care accommodation) in order to shape a more positive future for them.
"The new sexual health guidelines give a welcome new impetus to all our work in this field."