Congressmen Randy Cunningham (R-Calif.) and James McDermott (D-Wash.) told reporters and supporters gathered in the Capitol that the office is needed because too many men are conditioned to ignore their health and to avoid going to the doctor.
As a result, they said, men's overall life expectancy has gone from being equal to women's in 1920 to being more than 6 years shorter today.
Meanwhile, men are 25% less likely to visit a doctor than are women. "This office will help to raise awareness about threats to men's health, and hopefully we can reduce the number of men who die each year from treatable diseases," Rep. Cunningham said.
The bill calls for an office within the Department of Health and Human Services to concentrate on directing research and disseminating information to the public about the importance of early detection and timely treatment for a host of diseases that principally affect men. Prostate cancer is chief among the diseases of concern. It killed 32,000 American men last year, according to the National Bureau of Health Statistics. "The doctor in the Capitol here is always after us to get tested," said Rep. McDermott said, who is himself a physician.
Both Congressmen stressed that the creation of an Office of Men's Health would not impinge on the funding or the status for the Office of Women's Health, which was created in 1990.
The bill has garnered the support of the National Medical Association, which represents some 25,000 African-American physicians across the country. NMA president Dr. Rodney Hood said that the office would help the "thousands of African-American men [who] suffer disproportionately" from diseases such as AIDS, hypertension, and cancer.
Rep. Cunningham introduced similar legislation last year, only to have it stall before it could reach a vote. He blamed last year's lack of support on election-year politics, adding that the roster of Congressional supporters the bill has attracted from across the political spectrum should help it pass during the 107th Congress. [Full bill]
14-Feb-2001 (Source Reuters Health)
Page created on February 14th, 2001
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