In her first speech on men’s health, public health minister Anne Milton asked for suggestions on how the government can back the MHF’s challenge to get a million more men physically active by 2012. The MHF took up her offer today in a letter to the minister.
Milton, pictured right between MHF CEO Peter Baker and president Ian Banks, was speaking at the launch of Men’s Health Week at Upton Park football ground, to 130 men’s health activists from Men’s Health Week partner organisations.
A trained nurse, Anne Milton is a former steward of the Royal College of Nursing, the body that set up the MHF in 1994 so the Fourm’s activities have been on her radar for some time now.
‘As a nurse I know that men and women are rather different when it comes to their health and accessing health-care,’ she said afterwards, ‘but I also know that there’s no point in telling men what to do.’
For this reason she’s not convinced of the effectiveness of broad-brush health messages delivered nationally. ‘The Forum’s own research suggests they’re not always listened to,’ she says.
‘There are real health inequalities in this country and dealing with them means recognising these differences. The last government put a lot of money into health campaigning - you can’t criticise them for that - but was it targeted accurately enough?
‘We need different strategies for different groups in different places. What works in my Guildford constituency in Surrey won’t necessarily work in Hartlepool’ (the home town of her husband Dr Graham Henderson, the director of Public Health for the East Surrey PCT). ‘Real change takes place locally.’
She means services are best designed where they’re delivered. But also that lifestyle changes are most-effective and long-lasting when we decide to make them at the most local level of all – inside our own heads. ‘It’s up to men to wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and decide to stop smoking, drink less, eat better and take more exercise. It’s up to us to make it possible.’
As an ex-smoker she’s not under any illusions about hard this can be but she says she’s open to suggestions how. In today’s letter, MHF CEO Peter Baker proposed a meeting soon.
Page created on June 18th, 2010
Page updated on June 21st, 2010