University of Bedfordshire academic Alison Hadley OBE has been called on to share the success of England’s teenage pregnancy strategy.
The 51% drop in teenage pregnancies in England is one of the UK’s success stories and is one which other countries have sought to replicate. It is currently the subject of an investigation by Radio 4’s Whodunnit show and is covered in a just published paper in Reproductive Health Journal
The UK Labour Government’s ten-year teenage pregnancy strategy was launched in 1999 and its implementation was led by Alison Hadley. It was the first attempt by the government to implement a comprehensive, evidence based programme with sufficient time, funding and leadership to have an impact.
Implementing the United Kingdom’s ten-year teenage pregnancy strategy for England (1999-2010): How was this done and what did it achieve? authored by Alison Hadley, Venkatraman Chandra-Mouli (WHO) and Roger Ingham of the University of Southampton, narrates the ten-year story of the strategy’s implementation and draws out six lessons that contributed to the strategy’s success and identifies factors that hindered progress.
Nationally led and locally delivered, the strategy had four themes: joined up action by national and local government; better prevention through improved sex and relationships education and young people’s access to effective contraception; a national campaign to reach young people and parents; and coordinated support for young parents.
The paper describes the detail of how the complex strategy was implemented over the ten year period and discusses six key features identified as being fundamental to its success:
Alison Hadley Director of the Teenage Pregnancy Knowledge Exchange at the University of Bedfordshire and the government’s teenage pregnancy adviser said: “The learning from the strategy remains relevant for UK policy and practice as, despite the substantial decline, England’s teenage birth rate remains higher than in other Western European countries.
“It also provides important lessons for governments and policy makers in other countries seeking to reduce teenage pregnancy rates.”
Dr Chandra-Mouli, from WHO’s Department of Reproductive Health and Research, who encouraged Ms Hadley to document England’s strategy and co-authored two papers with her on the subject says the lessons learned from the conception and implementation of England’s teenage pregnancy strategy are relevant everywhere.
Dr Chandra-Mouli explains: “One of many key lessons for donors and programme managers is that even when a programme is well-designed and well implemented (like England’s was), changes in adolescent pregnancy rates take time.
“If England’s strategy had been halted five years after the launch of implementation, it would have been classified as a failure, because the results were limited and uneven then. Ten years and beyond, it is recognised as one of the great successes in adolescent public health.”
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