Covid-19 shows we need a men's health policy now
The Covid-19 pandemic has shown just how desperately the UK needs a men's health policy.
In its submission to the UK parliament's Women and Equalities Committee enquiry into Covid-19, the Forum has called once again on the government to introduce a men's health policy (as the Committee itself advocated at the end of the last parliamentary session.)
That was one of six key recommendations in the response. The Forum called for four immediate actions:
- Better data: all Covid-19 related data - by all public bodies - should be reported in sex-disaggregated form - as well as, where possible, other key protected characteristics and deprivation.
- More research: The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and other research bodies should commission research to analyse the excess death amongst men and the interventions that can be taken to address them.
- Review of ALL risks to NHS staff: NHS England should do an urgent review of the risks to staff based on all protected characteristics - and implement policies accordingly.
- Male-targeted action: Public Health England should review its programme and identify those areas where male-targeted public health interventions are needed.
Longer-term the Forum called on government to:
- Develop and implement a men’s health policy, and
- Follow WHO guidelines and fully reflect sex, gender and other health inequalities in future pandemic planning - right from the very beginning
Men's Health Forum CEO Martin Tod said:
Based on UK data, men are 50-200% more likely to die from Covid-19 than women. How much of this is due to biology, how much to health behaviour and attitudes and how much to a policy response that takes no account of gender remains unclear.
The failure to think of gender from the start - and the resulting need to catch-up over time has wasted time and led to a less effective response. Gender - and frankly all other relevant characteristics - needs to be built into planning for future pandemics and future waves of Covid-19.
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.
Here’s our fund-raising page - please chip in if you can.