Monday, June 11, 2007

Men's Health Week - are we men feckless and indulgent?

It's Men's Health Week in Ireland and in the UK and, as always, the statistics make grim reading and make you wonder if we men are feckless, self-indulgent creatures with little regard for our health. After all smoking, drinking, obesity and sitting around on your ass when you could be getting some aerobic exercise are among the reasons for poor health in men relative to women. According to the Men's Health Forum in Ireland, men's health suffers from risk-taking, leaving it too late to go to the doctor and a reluctance to take care of ourself once diagnosed or to use such support services as exist.

Fair enough - but I suspect our poor attitude to health is also an outcome of the historical expectation that men will do dirty and dangerous work and that they will get themselves blown to pieces in war if their nation demands it. If that's where we came from you can hardly expect us to run to the doctor with every ache and pain.

And as the Forum put it in a recent press release: "Health services have been slow to recognise the particular issues affecting men in relation to long-term health conditions. The lack of 'make-friendly' primary care services can delay diagnosis and inhibit men’s use of ongoing care and support services. Pharmacy services are not yet sufficiently engaged with men to provide advice and information about self-care. Published health information is rarely designed to appeal to the male reader."

So it's not just carelessness on the part of men: our history brought us to this point and both we and our health services need to get up to speed on this life or death issue.....

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