EMHF president Dr Ian Banks, pictured right at the recent EU conference in Lisbon, looks back on 2007 and ahead to 2008.
This year – 2007 – has without a doubt been the most significant in the European Men’s Health Forum’s history.
Last month’s first-ever EU men’s health conference in Lisbon confirmed the issue of mens health successful ascent up the EU agenda. The event arose out of the Forum’s Vienna Declaration, a statement of intent on men’s health launched in 2006 which was still attracting signatures from key players on – and off - the European public health stage as 2007 drew to an end. At the time of writing, 28 MEPs have signed plus dozens of EU and Government officials, health professionals and academics. Even Europe’s governing body for football, UEFA volunteered its support along with numerous health NGOs at European and national level
At the European Health Forum meeting in Gastein, Austria, the Forum highlighted the central concern of men’s health campaigners – premature male death - in a dramatic and graphic way by putting man ‘on trial’. ‘Judge’ John Bowis MEP found man ‘not guilty’ of endangering his own health (though with a warning as to future behaviour) – a clear indication that it is also down to health policy makers to address the problem. In 2007, this message appeared to be getting through. From pharmaceuticals to the new EU’s health strategy, the Forum has started to demonstrate what a positive contribution an approach that is sensitive men’s health could make to EU policy issues
The European Patients’ Forum-led Value+ project - Promoting Patients’ Involvement in EU-supported Health-related Projects – in which the EMHF is an associate partner, will ensure that the views of men and male patients now have a direct route into EU health initiatives.
Alongside other successful EU funding bids this signifies a growth in both volume and diversity in the Forum’s funding sources which should see it in good stead for the future in further developing and maintaining an independent voice for men’s health in Europe.
The increasing number of EMHF-run projects, of external representation and coalition building is giving EMHF unprecedented visibility with major European stakeholders not least EU institutions and WHO Europe. We look forward to 2008 with justified optimism.
Thank you for your support and seasons greetings from all the EMHF.