Why is the Government’s most senior advisor on public health refusing to put equal focus on the health of men and women?
That is the key question asked by a joint letter to Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies, signed this weekend by insideMAN and 40 other leading advocates for the well being of men and boys.
At the end of 2015, the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) published her 2014 Annual Report, entitled “Health of the 51%: Women”; following this the Men’s Health Forum wrote to Dame Sally Davies asking for her 2015 Annual Report to focus on men’s health.
She turned down this request to place equal focus on the issues that affect men and also refused to give any commitment to producing any report focusing on men’s health in the future.
Here are a handful of the health inequalities faced by men that urgently need addressing:
- 75% of premature deaths from heart disease are male
- Once cancers that can only affect one sex or the other are taken out of the figures – men are then 67% more likely to die from cancer
- One man in five dies before the age of 65
- Men are four times as likely to kill themselves
- Men are more likely to be addicted to drugs and alcohol
The CMO is the most senior advisor on health matters in a Government, with a particular remit to focus on the health needs of communities as opposed to individuals.
To specifically produce a report highlighting concern for women’s health, but then to refuse to produce any equivalent report on the many urgent health issues experienced primarily by men, is totally unacceptable.
But more than this, it raises worrying questions about the attitudes towards the well being of men and boys’ that are embedded at the very heart of Government.
One of the most common explanations for men’s worse health outcomes is that men are bad at looking after themselves – in other words, it’s essentially men’s own fault that they get treatment later and die younger than women.
But the fact that one of the Government’s key individual’s tasked with focusing awareness on public health, appears to openly treat men’s health as less important than women’s, suggests that it's not just men who are to blame for their own poor health.
You can read the letter and list of signatories in full here