30/06/2009

EC Targets Sexually Acquired Infection

A surge in sexually transmitted infections around the border areas is to be tackled with new European Union funds.

As news that the EU's INTERREG IVA programme for cross-border health and social care services is funding a dozen projects was revealed, the sexual health problems came to light as one of the targeted areas.

Around €30 million has been secured from Europe, and because of a dramatic rise in such cases, which are causing particular concern, additional sexually transmitted infections' clinics will be established in Omagh, Enniskillen, Letterkenny, Monaghan, Cavan and Louth areas to help tackle the extra demand for this service.

However, this is just one of the schemes being helped.

The fund will be used to support 12 large-scale health and social care projects overall, with the services running up to 2013.

The process will be managed by the Co-operation and Working Together (CAWT) cross-border health services partnership on behalf of both health departments.

A range of vital health and social services are set to benefit patients and clients in a very practical way.

Eating disorders are also in focus as the plan also includes the establishment of a specialist eating disorder service offering an early intervention service.
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There will also be initiatives for older people in the area of telehealth and telecare; a diabetes education project aimed at women planning to become pregnant and children and young people with diabetes.

A number of specialist acute hospital services will be enhanced and extended to serve populations on both sides of the border.

Additional consultants will be appointed for Ear, Nose and Throat, Vascular and Urology services within the Western and Southern Health and Social Care Trust areas, to serve populations in Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth, in addition to the Northern Ireland catchment area.

All services and projects will involve the community and voluntary sectors.

However a number will have a strong community and voluntary input - these include a community level cross sector alcohol harm reduction service in the North West and support to people with disabilities in providing alternatives to traditional day care services.

A social inclusion project aimed at 'hard to reach' groups such as travellers and vulnerable women and a community-based approach to managing obesity are among the schemes.

Another project will assist children with autism and their families through the provision of tailored family support programmes across the border region.

(BMcc/JM)

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