My role


Where have all the men gone?

MHF chair of trustees Alan White introduces the Forum's 2006-07 annual report.


Annual Report coverWhen it comes to health, men are missing. They're missing from doctors' surgeries - under the age of 45, men visit their GP only half as often as women. And often it seems they're missing from health policy too.

It's certainly not because they're healthier than women. The only place men are not missing from is the undertaker's.

Many men - and women - have flown on a Boeing 737. It's the most popular passenger jet of all time.

But imagine two of them crashing every day in the UK. What would happen in a country where two 737s went down every day? Surely we'd all demand that something be done about it. There would be questions in parliament, a media frenzy. The government would be under enormous pressure to act.

Yet this is happening already. Every day in the UK, 330 men - the equivalent of two 737s - die before their 75th birthday. That's 120,000 premature male deaths a year - more than the capacity of Wembley Stadium, more than the entire British Army. It's one premature death every four and a half minutes.

These deaths are rarely inevitable. Men are not biologically programmed to keel over at 75. These deaths are preventable.

So, why hasn't a pop star organised a high-profile Save The Male concert yet? The answer is that something else is missing too: awareness. Most of us - men and women - simply don't realise the scale of the problem or what to do about it. That's where the MHF - and its Annual Report 2006-07 - comes in.

But there has recently been a crucial development which could begin to change this rather gloomy picture. There is now not just an ethical case for action to improve men's health.

Thanks to the Equality Act 2006 and its gender equality duty, there is also a legal requirement to do so. The Department of Health and NHS must now take account of the different needs of women and men and tailor their services accordingly.

The introduction of the gender duty marks the achievement of one of the Forum's most important strategic goals.

A key recommendation in our over-arching policy document, Getting It Sorted (2004), was that every Department of Health policy should take gender fully into account and that primary care trusts should be required to assess men's health needs as part of their health inequalities work. Of course, the gender duty on its own will not lead to the changes we want to see to men's health.

The MHF will have to continue to work with — and push — the government and the NHS to ensure that it is properly implemented.

As 2006/7 ended, we began to finalise a strategic review that will set our agenda for the next five years. Consultations with stakeholders showed that our key strengths include a solid reputation, a capacity to be innovative, professionalism, an ability to reach decision-makers and being unique — there is no other national men's health organisation in England and Wales.

We have already had a clear and measurable impact on health policy and are now consulted by government on a range of important issues.


Page created on December 11th, 2007

Page updated on December 1st, 2009