Wednesday 03 August 2022
A report released today by Public Health Services shows that conceptions to those aged under-18 in Guernsey and Alderney have reached a record low-level averaging just 4 per year in the three-years from 2019 to 2021.
Expressed as a rate this equates to 4.3 conceptions per 1,000. By comparison the latest available rate in England and Wales (for 2018-2020) was 15.2 per 1,000.
Implementation of a programme of free contraception for islanders under the age of 21 years in the Bailiwick was initiated on 16 December 2017 and the programme has now been running for 4 ½ years. The key performance indicator that we measure to monitor the performance of this programme is the impact of this service on under 18 conceptions. This KPI has been chosen as it allows us to benchmark ourselves against other jurisdictions.
The free under 21 contraception is provided by Primary and Secondary Care Services, the Orchard Centre, and Choices.
Deputy Tina Bury, Vice -President of the Committee for Health & Social Care and Member of the Committee for Employment and Social Security said:
'This service has achieved excellent results and will positively impact the health and wellbeing of young people in the Bailiwick for years to come. This is because, as well as the costs associated with pregnancy and birth, under-18 conceptions can lead to socioeconomic deprivation, mental health difficulties and lower levels of educational attainment. This is likely to also impact on the reliance on social benefits.
I would like to thank our partners in Choices, the Orchard Centre, and Primary and Secondary Care for their support with this programme along with political colleagues and officers from the Committee for Health & Social Care and Employment & Social Security for their support in the development and implementation of this programme.'
Health of Health Intelligence, Jenny Cataroche, explained:
"Under-18 conceptions have fallen considerably over the last 14 years but had stabilised somewhat in the Bailiwick by 2016. Comparisons with Jersey rates showed that further reductions might be possible, and this was the main driving factor for the introduction of the Free Under-21 Contraception initiative which began in December 2017.
In the years since contraception became freely available for young people, conception rates among women under-18 have —just as we hoped and predicted— reduced further, bringing the two Channel Islands to similarly low rates. This puts us in a position where it is difficult to reduce any further and maintenance of this low level, accepting some year-to-year fluctuation, will be the marker of ongoing success."
Choices Manager, Fiona Hardy welcomed this new data, adding:
'Choices are really pleased to be able to play a role in achieving these impressive results as part of our partnership working. This aligns with our strategic aims which are to support sexual wellbeing by empowering individuals to make positive choices about their reproductive and sexual health. This programme does just that and we look forward to continuing to deliver services for young people in the Bailiwick.