In 2023, a policy to provide free contraception for people under 25 will be implemented on a trial basis in the Wellbeing Services County of Ostrobothnia. The county council approved the trial, which is part of the state-funded Tulevaisuuden sosiaali- ja terveyskeskus Pohjanmaalla (The Future of Social Welfare and Health Centres in Ostrobothnia) project. The idea is to organise comprehensive prevention services that include counselling promoting sexual health as well as the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.
– Until now, municipalities have had varying practices in distributing free contraceptives to people under 25 years of age. Through this trial, contraceptives can be paid for with state aid in those areas where free contraception for under 25s has not previously been implemented, explains Sector Director Pia-Maria Sjöström.
In the free contraception trial, everyone under the age of 25, regardless of gender, will have access to all contraceptives that have been purchased in the Wellbeing Services County of Ostrobothnia.
– Professionals familiar with contraceptive counselling will guide young people in choosing the right contraceptive method. IUDs, birth control capsules, patches and rings, emergency-pills, birth control-pills, condoms and oral sex shields are available, says Sjöström.
In the project, contraceptive and sexual counselling action models common to the entire wellbeing services county will be drawn up, and the accessibility of contraceptive counselling services will be developed, for example by expanding the use of electronic services.
The free contraception trial will end at the end of 2023 and its operation will be evaluated. In connection with the 2024 operational planning and budgetary work, a decision will be made on how prevention services will be organised in the future.
A customer council vantage point
In the Wellbeing Services County of Ostrobothnia, customer councils have been established for the sectors dealing with children, young people and families, the working-age population, and seniors. People representing different points of view were recruited through an open call for customer councils to develop services in the wellbeing services county, and the county council has confirmed the composition of the councils.
Customer councils have been established to support the development of customer-oriented and user-friendly services, and staff representatives can also ask for the councils’ opinion on the development or evaluation of services.
In 2023, a fourth customer council will be established, which will be a multicultural council.
– The aim of the multicultural council is to include people from as many different ethnic and cultural backgrounds as possible. The search is supposed to start next year, says customer service manager Sari West.