Published Thursday, 26 September 2013
Rates of teenage pregnancy have decreased in Northern Ireland, including Belfast, between 2001 and 2010. However, research shows that rates are twice as high in the north and west Belfast compared to the rest of the city.
Overall, Belfast's rates have consistently been 1.3 times higher than the rest of NI.
Under the 'Be Safe' pilot, community pharmacies will be able to provide confidential advice and help to women aged between 16 and 19.
The service will provide Emergency Hormonal Contraception (EHC) if needed and appropriate, along with confidential advice and free condoms.
The pharmacist can also refer patients to services which can provide a longer term method of contraception and to other sexual health services, if needed, for sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing.
Dr Jillian Johnston, from the Public Health Agency, said they want to improve access to sexual health services for teenage women, particularly in areas of deprivation, and improve the sexual health of young people.
She told UTV:"The emergency contraceptive pill is an option in an emergency situation only.
"It's not the option for long term contraception and the pharmacists have been trained and will be able to also offer advice on where to go for longer term options."
She added that the PHA were committed to reducing teenage pregnancy rates in the community.
© UTV News