Western Australian Aboriginal Sexual Health Strategy
The recently released Western Australian Aboriginal Sexual Health Strategy 2005-2008 recognises the importance of a comprehensive approach to sexual health, and outlines a framework for engaging communities and service providers to bring about improvements in sexual health. The WA Strategy complements the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sexual Health and Blood-borne Virus Strategy 2005-2008 and the National Sexually Transmitted Infections Strategy 2005-2008. All three Strategies recognise the importance of partnerships between communities, health care providers and other agencies to address the complex issues related to sexual health.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) can cause infertility in both men and women. The presence of STIs enhances the spread of HIV, and can also have serious consequences on the health of newborn infants. Of particular concern is the continuing high incidence of STIs in Aboriginal youth. In 2004, those aged 15 to 19 years were 158 times more likely to be notified with gonorrhoea and 15 times more likely to be notified with chlamydia than non-Aboriginal youth of the same age. Western Australian Aboriginal Sexual Health Strategy 2005 – 2008According to the Report the most effective sexual health programs for Aboriginal people include enhanced primary care services and comprehensive approaches. A reduction in high rates of STIs in Central Australia on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Lands in the mid 1990s was attributed to a comprehensive sexual health program known as the ‘Eight Way Model’. This model has been replicated, with good results, in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands in WA, and is used as the framework for this Strategy. The full engagement of communities is essential to the success of this model, requiring ongoing efforts in all areas of culturally appropriate service delivery, including:1. Planning and management2. Health promotion and community education3. Data collection and monitoring4. Health hardware5. Clinical services6. Training7. Research8. EvaluationThe Family Planning Association of Western Australia has played a major role in providing sexual health educational programs for health professionals and the community. Yet to be exploited to its fullest advantage is the application of e-learning to meet the learning needs of health professionals in rural and remote areas. Given the seriousness of the sexual health situation among Aboriginal communities it is critical for a comprehensive approach to be taken in addressing the educational issues.ReferenceHealth Department of Western Australia. Western Australian Aboriginal Sexual Health Strategy 2005-2008. 2005, Health Department of Western Australia.