Europe’s politicians have been accused of failing to see gender when it comes to health.
The European Men’s Health Forum says that Europe’s leaders are letting men down and that the inadequate health support men are getting leads to millions of European men living with conditions without seeking professional help.
Erick Savoye, Director of the Forum, said: ‘There is still an assumption among our politicians in Europe that health is predominately a female concern. As a result far too little attention is being paid to men’s attitude to health. Consequently millions of men have conditions which remain undiagnosed and they are dying prematurely.
‘Politicians throughout Europe need to recognise that men’s health requires specific attention and support. The current unisex approach to health is failing men as well as women. Governments target men and women with the same health policies, but one policy doesn't suit all. We need to separate them.
‘Men are currently left out of the political loop when it comes to health. They are rarely consulted on health campaigns. For instance, Governments need to provide specific services for earlier diagnosis and more routine check ups, including in non-clinical settings.
‘Breast cancer and prostate cancer are examples of attention focusing on the female problem. Yet more than one man an hour dies of prostate cancer in the EU and research suggests that before the end of the decade it will be more common among men than lung cancer.
‘One in five cases of osteoporosis occurs in men and because male bones are more brittle, osteoporosis is likely to be fatal more quickly in a man. But because osteoporosis is widely considered an exclusively female problem, doctors are often slow to diagnose the disease in male patients. Diabetes is also largely under-diagnosed in men.
‘Is it a coincidence that every doctor studies gynaecology and female psychology as part of his or her training, but they get nothing for men?
In October last year the inaugural conference of the European Men’s Health Forum in Vienna approved a Declaration on the health of men and boys, the first of its kind in the world. 'We urged Europe’s key opinion leaders and decision makers to sign up to it, but to date there has been a very poor response from policy makers,’ said Erick Savoye.
The Declaration urges policy makers to recognise men’s health as a distinct and important issue, to develop a better understanding of men’s attitudes to health, to invest in ‘male sensitive’ approaches to providing healthcare and to initiate work on health for boys and young men in school and community settings.
‘Unless we can get our politicians to recognise the concerns of the Declaration, men’s life expectancy will remain unnecessarily low across Europe, with death rates from preventable causes at all ages being unacceptably high. Poor health and premature death in men also affects their families and are an unnecessary burden on health services and the wider economy.’