We recently featured a blog on men’s health in Australia by Professor John MacDonald, Director of the Men’s Health Information and Resource Centre, University of Western Sydney. Professor MacDonald stressed that we should be making services more accessible to men, rather than blaming men for not looking after their health.
Following on from this, we had the pleasure of hearing John’s European counterpart, Professor Ian Banks, President of the European Men’s Health Forum, who was in Australia for the Australian Self-Medication Industry (ASMI) 2010 Conference in Sydney.
Professor Banks, is one of the world’s leading experts on men’s health and the official spokesman on men’s health issues for the British Medical Association, along with being a GP.
Professor Banks believes that a better understanding of profound gender differences could hold the key to improving men’s health, and that women may play a pivotal role in the health of men in the community.
He says that, for better or worse, most of the responsibility for men’s health falls on women in the family because they are more acutely aware of their own health and are often the ones that encourage a man to visit the doctor.
Professor Banks has also found that many men actually avoid going to the doctor because they are fearful of the diagnosis. This explains why for a range of conditions including melanoma, where men have a lower incidence than women, they actually suffer a higher mortality rate because they delay diagnosis and treatment.
He agrees with Professor Ian McDonald that health services are geared towards women, and are not effectively encouraging men to seek help. He uses the example of the many posters around a doctor’s surgery that are targeted at women, or the overwhelming amount of women’s products in pharmacies to demonstrate this.
Professor Banks said we still have a long way to go to improve the state of men’s health worldwide.