A key group of MPs has joined the campaign for a Men’s Health Strategy for England.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Issues Affecting Men and Boys has published a new report setting out a compelling case for the strategy. Drawing on evidence from a range of national and international men’s health experts, the APPG is urging the government to start work by June 2022 on developing a strategy to improve the health of all men and boys throughout their lives.
Why June 2022? Because that will be after the government has published their long-awaited and welcome Women’s Health Strategy. The MPs say a focus on men’s health inequalities should also form part of the government’s forthcoming White Paper on Health Disparities.
The APPG report The Case for a Men’s Health Strategy: For a Healthier, Happier and a More Productive Society for All concludes that a men’s health strategy is 'a moral as well as a health issue' that would:
- benefit not just men and boys themselves but the women and girls with whom they share their lives and society
- reduce demand/costs on the health system
- improve economic productivity.
'Excellent new report'
The Men's Health Forum, who have been part of the campaign for a men's health strategy, welcomed the report. CEO Martin Tod said:
We strongly welcome the APPG’s excellent new report and their support for our campaign. Men’s health across the UK is still unacceptably poor and in areas that need to be levelled up it is even worse. We need urgent action: men’s life expectancy is going down. Too many men die too young – many before they even retire.
The recently announced Women’s Health Strategy shows the potential of a joined up gendered approach to improving health – and a Men’s Health Strategy to go alongside the Women’s Health Strategy will be just as powerful. The experience of other countries shows that this can work.
In so many areas, there are big differences in men’s and women’s health and the approaches that need to be taken – COVID, mental health, heart disease, cancer. In all these areas, a properly gender-informed approach to health – backed up by a Men’s Health Strategy -- will be better for men and better for women.
'Needs of gender'
The idea that gender-aware health strategies are good for everyone is shared by women's health experts. Ann Keeling, senior policy fellow at Women in Global Health, said:
I strongly support both a Men’s Health Strategy and a Women’s Health Strategy in the UK. Both are needed to ensure that the needs of everyone are properly addressed. Men as well as women require health services that are designed to meet the specific needs of their gender. Without them, their health will remain unnecessarily poor.
'Current approach not working'
The chair of the APPG, Nick Fletcher MP said that it was clear that the current approach was not working:
On hearing the evidence from a range of national and international experts, it is clear that there are serious challenges in men and boys’ health– and the current approach is not working. This includes tackling mental health issues such as suicide, health conditions such as cancer or unhealthy lifestyles underpinned by obesity and alcohol. The case for a Men’s Health Strategy is compelling.
One of those experts was the Forum's patron Professor Alan White. Alan said:
There is a growing body of evidence relating to the differing health needs of men and women and how these needs could be met. This has led to other countries now implementing men’s health policies and the WHO for Europe establishing a men’s health strategy, which the UK signed up for. They all recognise that it is too costly to leave the health of the male population to chance. We also need to grasp this opportunity given by the APPG to take a serious look at the health of the male population.