The Men's Health Forum are to press the government to be more specific about how it plans to improve men's health, when it meets the Minister of State for Health, Rosie Winterton, tomorrow.
Despite giving a cautious welcome to the recent Public Health White Paper, the Forum was disappointed that the document failed to address men's health at a strategic level.
'There was no mention of gender at all at a strategic level', said Peter Baker, Director of Men's Health Forum, 'and yet we know that the way men and women view their health and respond to health services is totally different.
'We will be pressing the minister to explain how the government plans to address this issue. The main challenge at the moment, as far as men's health is concerned, is not lack of choice but lack of involvement.
'Men tend to smoke more, drink more alcohol and eat a poorer diet than women but are also less likely also to visit their doctor, leading to an unacceptably poor level of men's health in the UK.
'While men are currently far from fully engaged in their own health, it is equally true that health services are far from fully engaged with men. Health services, particularly primary care, have rarely actively encouraged men to use them. They have not fully understood how best to improve men's health.'
The Forum will be discussing with the minister how to ensure that the words of the White Paper are turned into concrete commitments on men's health by developing tailored approaches to the delivery of services. The Forum will be discussing two areas in particular detail, men's use of pharmacy services and NHS Direct, reflecting Rosie Winterton's ministerial responsibilities.
'I welcome the fact that the white paper creates opportunities to improve men's health, but the crucial test will come at the delivery plan stage which is scheduled for early next year,' said Peter. 'For too long, male health has been the forgotten area of health care in the UK. We will be discussing with the minister how to change that'.
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