Minister launches service to make condoms freely available in colleges

Minister launches service to make condoms freely available in colleges
(L-R) Maeve O’Brien Acting Programme Lead, HSE Sexual Health & Crisis Pregnancy Programme (SHCPP), Minister for Health, Simon Harris, Róisín O'Donovan, Vice-President for Welfare at USI, and Anita Ghafoor-Butt, HSE SHCPP Communications Manager, pictured at the launch of the National Condom Distribution Service.

The majority of colleges across the country will soon have free condom dispensers on campus.

The Health Minister Simon Harris has today launched the roll-out of the National Condom Distribution Service in a bid to reduce unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.

Third-level institutions can from today order free condom dispensers from the HSE, as well as information leaflets about how to the use the contraception correctly.

Mr Harris said the service marks a "new milestone".

He thanked the HSE and third-level staff and students for their roles in getting the programme up-and-running.

Minister Harris observed: "It is essential we continue to make improvements in sexual education and remove barriers to contraception.

"This will reduce crisis pregnancies and reduce the rates of sexually transmitted infections."

Helen Deely, acting assistant national director for HSE Health and Wellbeing added: "This scheme is about increasing opportunities for young people in third-level settings to make safer-sex choices if they are sexually active.

"We are really pleased that third-level colleges across the country have responded positively to engaging with this scheme; and support our endeavour to increase consistent condom use among young people."

The new service comes amid ongoing calls for the Government to increase access to contraception, following a recommendation from the Oireachtas committee on the Eighth Amendment.

The committee's final report expressed concerns about the cost of contraception, suggesting it can be "prohibitive" for anybody "on the cusp of qualifying for a medical card".

It proposed making the "most effective method of contraception" available free of charge.

A public consultation on the issue took place earlier this year.

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