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How the NHS can be gender-sensitive

The report Improving the Health Of Men + Women launched earlier this month is now available on the MHF site.

The government-funded report coincided with the announcement of pilot projects in six Primary Care Trusts — Epping Forest, Southwark, Uttlesford, South Worcestershire, Airedale and Bradford City PCTs - to boost health outcomes by making the NHS more gender-sensitive.

Improving the Health of Men + Women is published by the Gender and Health Partnership which was founded in 2001 to unite organizations and individuals interested in men's health, women's health and gender. The report describes how women and men can experience conditions such as heart disease, cancer, depression and sexually transmitted diseases in very different ways. Vulnerability to such diseases, symptoms, treatments and prognosis may all differ for men and women. Yet the NHS does not distinguish needs by gender and patients lose out.

The report highlights how the government's decision to create a Public Sector Duty to Promote Gender Equality will require the NHS, public health educators and health researchers to take this issue seriously and could transform cancer, mental health, sexual health services and coronary care.

Julie Mellor, Chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission, said: 'The new duty could make an enormous difference to the health of women and men, making the NHS plan services that, for example, are more accessible to women with childcare responsibilities and which encourage men to use services and seek early diagnoses.'

Examples from Improving the Health of Men + Women of differences that a gendered approach to health care would tackle:

• Men typically develop heart disease ten years earlier than women

• During a heart attack women and men suffer different symptoms: women have significantly more nausea or vomiting and men have more chest pain, while women report more neck and back pain.

• Women seem to have a higher risk of lung cancer than men at the same exposure to smoking. Nicotine replacement therapy is less effective for women: those who smoke have a higher dependence on nicotine.

• Male-female infection with HIV is more than twice as efficient as female-male infection

• Women are around 2.7 times more likely than men to develop an auto-immune disease such as diabetes.

• Women's immune systems make them more resistant than men to some kinds of infection including tuberculosis.

• Men are more likely than women to commit suicide

• Community-based studies and statistics on service use show that women are 2-3 times more likely than men to be affected by depression or anxiety.

• Men are more likely than women to die of injuries but women are more likely to die of injuries sustained in the home.

Download the Report.

Page created on March 23rd, 2005

Page updated on December 1st, 2009