Why is gender-sensitive health care so hard?
I read a great article at the week-end pointing out how oestrogen protects women against Covid-19.
It appears to reduce the risk of catching the virus, of dying from it and of Long Covid. The author Kate Muir cited a number of studies and asked very simply: why, if the hormone helps women, is it not being prescribed?
Good question. This is exactly what the Men’s Health Forum is talking about when it calls for gender-sensitivity in health.
Men and women have different hormones, different chromosomes, different lifestyles, different social expectations. It seems daft not to consider those when providing health care. If oestrogen helps women fight off Covid-19, use it.
Let's 'follow the science'
This is exactly the same argument as we made when we urged the Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunisation to reach out to men. Why? Because age-standardised mortality figures suggest that at any given age men are twice as likely to die of Covid-19 as women - a fact that health care providers should be making men aware of. The increased Covid risk also applies, of course, to people from a BAME background. And, nobody should be afraid to say so.
To coin a phrase, it’s about following the science and reacting accordingly. Why is it so difficult?
The Covid pandemic has demonstrated beyond doubt that sex and gender matter hugely in health. Both men's health and women's health suffer when it's ignored. There are a lot of lessons to be learned from the pandemic: the need for sex and gender to be properly reflected in health care policy and practice is one of them.
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.