The world's first professor of men's health has called on his academic colleagues to encourage politicians and professional bodies to recognise the discipline and promote the relationship between gender and health care.
In his inaugural lecture, Alan White, Professor of Men’s Health at Leeds Metropolitan University and chair of the MHF, said that over the last ten years there had been a significant rise in interest in the state of men’s health and today serious attention was being paid to what had been described as ‘the biggest inequality of life expectancy’ – in some areas of England there were 10 to 15 year differences in life expectancy for men between the affluent and poorer sections of society.
But he said that although the idea of men's health as an academic discipline in its own right was being accepted, there was a need for politicians and the professional bodies to accept that gender was a key aspect of health care provision.
He issued a wake-up call for a broader range of academics and professionals to engage with the field, urging academics in particular to be more proactive in supporting the movement. What was now needed was a work plan of activity to enable this fledgling discipline to grow.
There was a need to debate and discuss the academic base for men’s health and then to establish what research was required to generate the evidence base for practice in this area and to explore why men seemed to be so much more vulnerable to diseases that should affect men and women equally.
‘All this requires campaigning,' said Alan. 'If our message does not get through to the politicians and the wider professional body then change will not occur. Health policy that is gender blind gives no steer to health professionals and health managers to develop gender specific health strategies or to funding agencies to see this as a legitimate area of concern.’
Professor White said that the final, but most important aspect of this framework was to inform and enable men themselves, ‘for if we are not able to develop a change in their health then all our work will have been for nought.’
Full lecture here.