Estonian young people have been advised on sexual health for as long as 20 years
This autumn, 20 years pass from the opening of the first centre providing advice on sexual health. The first consultation centres for Estonian youth were opened in early 1990s. The need for that was caused by the high level of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases among young people.
Now, free sexual health services are provided to the youth in 19 consultation centres all over Estonia thanks to the coordination of the Estonian Sexual Health Association and funding by the Estonian Health Insurance Fund and the National Institute for Health Development. “The idea to give advice to youth has developed successfully and secured its footing. That has mainly happened due to several years of hard work done by all consultants as well as the funding by the state,” said Mairi Kaha, the President of the Estonian Sexual Health Association.
“We have financed the activities of youth consultation centres already since 2002. At the level of organisation, this has been the best practice of the Estonian prevention projects. The results can be seen both in the decrease in the number of abortions as well as sexually transmitted diseases. Compared to other developed countries, the number of abortions in Estonia is still high. In addition, the number of sexually transmitted diseases and the level of AIDS cases will significantly affect the health care expenditure in Estonia in the future. This also has a direct impact on the birth rate of children (incl. those with the HIV virus). Therefore, the consultation centres for youth need to continue their operation in order to reach the level in the figures of the Estonian sexual health comparable to the level of the Nordic Countries,” said Sirje Vaask from the Health Department of the Estonian Health Insurance Fund.
The network of the youth consultation centres of the Estonian Sexual Health Association has been set as an example to the world by the World Health Organisation (WHO), according to whom, the availability of consultation services concerning the sexual and reproductive health of the youth is at a good level in Estonia. The feedback that young people give to the service is positive: according to them, the consultation centres are reliable and popular. “The number of young male visitors is also increasing gradually,” noted Mairi Kaha. The number of registered sexual diseases among teenagers has decreased significantly in Estonia during the past 10 years. Based on studies, the use of condoms and contraceptive methods has also improved – youth consultation centres together with the development of sexual education at school have played an important role in this. A realistic goal would be achieving a situation where the abortion rate of Estonian teenagers (19.2) reaches the level of the relevant Finnish figure (8.9).
Estonian Health Insurance Fund
sirje.vaask [at] haigekassa.ee
Website of the Estonian Sexual Health Association www.amor.ee.