My role


Prospects for men's health 'never better'

The prospects for improving men's health have never looked so good, according to MHF director Peter Baker in his Christmas message.

Looking forward to 2006, Peter cites recent statements by government as well as the success of Forum initiatives such as Men's Health Week and the BT Work Fit project, one of the largest workplace-based health projects ever seen as evidence of this.

The message in full follows:

"The prospects for improving men's health have never looked so good. This came home to me in October when I saw the keynote speech by Meg Munn MP, the deputy minister for women, at an Equal Opportunities Commission conference on the Equality Bill.

The minister highlighted various ways in which men are disadvantaged by the current health system and then went on, in considerable detail, to give examples of men's health initiatives around the country. She made the point that the new duty on public bodies to promote equality of opportunity between men and women, created by the Equality Bill, will lead to the kind of gender-sensitive policies and practices that could lead to real improvements in the health of men and women. This development is completely in line with one of our longstanding key policy goals.

The MHF is heavily involved in the consultation process on the gender duty and will be pressing for effective implementation rather than the watered-down version which some health service managers are lobbying for.

Another sign of our influence at the policy level was the Department of Health's Choosing health through pharmacy report, published in April. Almost entirely because of our lobbying, this included a section on men's health. Indeed, in this respect, the report has created a model that all government health policy should now follow.

We thought National Men's Health Week 2005, which focused on men and weight, would be a hard act to follow. The Week had some 30 partners, featured a conference with over 300 delegates, was widely covered in the media and led to at least 1,500 local events around the country.

The 2006 Week, on mental wellbeing, looks like it will be just as big, if not bigger. Over 20 organisations have already signed up as partners and we are continuing to meet a wide range of other organisations that are interested in our plans. One of the best pieces of news about the Week so far is that the national conference, on 12 June 2006, will be one of the first events at the new Wembley stadium, courtesy of the FA.

One very important development in 2005 is that we have committed ourselves to mainstreaming diversity, starting with Men's Health Week. We are working particularly hard to ensure that black and minority ethnic and gay men's issues are fully included. The Forum's quarterly magazine will now also routinely cover diversity issues — the next issue, out in early January, features the Prostate Cancer Charity's innovative awareness-raising work with Afro-Caribbean men.

The Work Fit project we have been running with BT is now coming to an end. Over 16,000 BT staff signed up to take part in this project which aims to increase physical activity, improve diet and support weight loss if needed. Although the final data is not yet available, the average weight loss of the participants so far has been about 3kg. Encouragingly, Work Fit has been particularly successful at involving middle-aged overweight men.

It is impossible to mention every aspect of the MHF's work in 2005 — I wish I had the space to highlight our work on chlamydia screening, for example, as well as our fascinating survey of men's attitudes to GP services. However, there is no doubt that we can approach the New Year with growing confidence that we are now having an impact not only on government and the NHS but also on the ever-growing range of organisations working with us on a wide variety of projects and initiatives.

None of this would be possible without the commitment and support of the MHF's Board of Trustees, its staff, members, sponsors and other stakeholders. I would like to take this opportunity of thanking all of you and wishing you a very happy holiday and New Year."

Page created on December 19th, 2005

Page updated on December 1st, 2009