Gov’t to strengthen youth sexual and reproductive services – Cuthbert-Flynn
Minister of State in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn (right), speaks with Principal Director of the National Family Planning Board (NFPB), Dr Lovette Byfield, at a World AIDS Day forum held on Friday December 2 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston.

KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Ministry of Health and Wellness says it is working with key partners on a national coordinated response to support sexual and reproductive health programmes that are targeted for youth.

The move comes against the background of an increase in HIV infections and reports of risky sexual practices among adolescents and young people.

State Minister, Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn, said data from the National Family Planning Board (NFPB) on youth sexual health practices over the last four years, shows a steady rise in new cases of HIV among the youth population.

She noted that in 2020, of the 618 new HIV cases reported, 16 per cent were from the adolescent age group, 15 to 19.

In addition, a 2017 survey picked up high levels of sexual risk-taking behaviour, including early sexual debut, multiple sex partnerships, cross-generational sex and transactional practices among the youth population.

Also of concern, Cuthbert-Flynn said is information from the Registrar General’s Department, which shows that 18 per cent of births are among young women 16 to 24 years old.

“These findings have moved the NFPB, in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund Jamaica and other stakeholders to look closely at the information and services provided to the youth and adolescent population. This includes a revision of the Adolescent and Youth Strategic Action Plan [for the period 2023-2025],” she noted.

Cuthbert-Flynn was addressing a World AIDS Day forum on Friday held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston.

She said that the adolescent population must have access to credible information and services to make responsible decisions regarding their reproductive health.

“In order to develop good health, adolescents must be provided with information, including age-appropriate, comprehensive sexual education and access to health services that are acceptable, equitable and effective,” she noted.

Cuthbert-Flynn said that the ministry is willing to support and endorse interventions that target the youth and to help them foster good sexual health practices and lead an all-round healthy lifestyle.

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