Covid-19: Forum urges public health to talk directly to men

01/04/20 . News

The Forum has called on the government to be more gender-aware in its Covid-19 communications. In a letter, the Forum tells the chief executive of Public Health England that failure to communicate specifically with men and women is ‘having a direct and negative effect on the incidence and outcomes’ of Covid-19.

About 70% of Covid-19 deaths are male. Given that men are more likely to catch Covid-19 and far more likely to die from it, you’d imagine that men might be more wary of the disease and follow the advice to avoid it. They’re not.

YouGov research shows that men are less likely to be worried about Covid-19 than women, less likely to have improved their hand hygiene and more likely to disbelieve the government’s advice:

  • 83% of women were ‘worried’ compared to 71% of men
  • 74% of women had improved hand hygiene compared to 67% of men
  • 10% of men think the staying at home advice is ‘false’ and incredibly 24% of men still believe that Covid-19 is ‘just like the flu’.

The argument is that perhaps if men understood the increased risk they were at, they would think and behave differently. The government have finally responded to the Forum’s request to release gender data around Covid-19 with the first weekly batch of ONS figures released yesterday. But these only go up to 20 March and the Forum continues to call for the daily figures to include gender and age.

The government’s messaging around Covid-19 targets specific higher risk groups including the over-70s and people with certain health conditions but there is nothing aimed directly at men, despite the fact that men appear twice as likely to die of Covid-19 as women.

Men’s Health Forum CEO Martin Tod said:

We believe that ignoring sex and gender in the government’s response risks having a direct and negative effect on the incidence and outcomes of Covid-19.

You can’t blame men for being unaware of their risk if nobody is telling them. Government advice must address this. Gender-targeted communication could help tackle any male complacency around the virus.

The Men’s Health Forum need your support

It’s tough for men to ask for help but if you don’t ask when you need it, things generally only get worse. Especially during a major pandemic like Covid-19. So we’re asking.

Men appear more likely to get Covid-19 and far, far more likely to die from it. The Men's Health Forum are working hard pushing for more action on this from government, from health professionals and from all of us. Why are men more affected and what can we do about it? We need the data. We need the research. We need the action. Currently we're the only UK charity doing this - please help us.

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