London, Nov 16 : Under new Government plans to urgently bring down teenage pregnancy rates in the UK, girls as young as 13 will be pushed to have contraceptive jabs. Council and health chief executives have been ordered to increase the uptake of 'long-acting' contraception in teen pregnancy 'hot spots', reports the Telegraph.
The government also wants more school-based clinics to administer the jabs, which can make girls infertile for up to three months.
Teenagers can receive the injections or implants without their parents' knowledge.
In letters, health and education ministers have told the heads of councils and primary care trusts to establish more 'school-based contraception clinics' and bring about 'an overall increase in the uptake of long-acting reversible contraception (LARC)'.
The letter to Stoke-on-Trent says: "A key priority over the next six months is the roll-out of school based services and further development of young people's sexual health services. This needs to include, as a priority, the provision of long-acting contraception to ensure all young people have the choice of effective contraception."
Stockton-on-Tees is told: "It is essential to use additional contraception funding to improve the provision and uptake of LARC."
The Government is hoping to see a big increase in the uptake because it has identified failures by teenage girls to take the daily pill correctly as one reason for soaring under-age pregnancies in the UK, which has higher rates than anywhere in Europe.
However, critics have warned that the controversial move will promote promiscuity and that injections and implants will not protect against the rampant spread of sexually transmitted disease.
Some health experts also say that the drugs are unsuitable for girls who are still growing.