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MHF calls for men's health tsar

The Men's Health Forum has today written to the Health Secretary John Reid urging him to appoint a men's health tsar.

In his letter, Peter Baker, Director of the Forum, reminds the minister that in his recent interview with the Forum's quarterly magazine he said: 'There is no reason why we shouldn't consider a men's health tsar in the long run'.

Mr Baker said: 'I think that such an appointment is now urgent and we cannot wait for the "long run". The state of men's health in this country is unacceptably poor and not enough is being done to rectify this, either nationally or locally. Unless ministers start to tackle the problems of men's health, the Government will fail to achieve its public health targets.

'Yet if men are given the right opportunity to access health services, they are often very keen to take advantage of them.

'For too long, male health has been the forgotten area of health care in the UK and the appointment of a men's health tsar would signal that at last the Government was taking this issue seriously. This cannot be left to local decision making. Average male life expectancy is significantly lower than that for females, with men much more likely to die of cancer, cardiovascular disease and suicide. And men tend to smoke more, drink more alcohol and eat a poorer diet than women.

'Last year's White Paper on public health failed to identify gender inequality as a specific strategic issue. That was a missed opportunity and the Men's Health Forum is now looking to Mr Reid to put this right.

 'Unless gender is specifically highlighted as a health issue that needs to be tackled at the strategic planning level, many primary care trusts will continue to treat it as a low priority or disregard it altogether.'

Mr Baker added that it was vital this issue was addressed in the white paper delivery plan now being prepared by the Government.

The Forum is now planning to get the issue of a men's health tsar raised in Parliament, with a direct question to Mr Reid asking him to make the appointment. It has also submitted written evidence to the Commons Health Select Committee which is examining the public health white paper, describing the publication as 'fundamentally flawed' because of its failure to include a strategic response to gender health inequalities.

Page created on February 3rd, 2005

Page updated on December 1st, 2009