The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has called for more money to be invested in men’s health with a particular focus on improving boys’ health literacy, preventing male suicide and developing innovative outreach programs to increase men’s access to healthcare.
Jonathan Bedloe, President of the Australian Men’s Health Forum (AMHF), which represents the men’s heath sector, has responded positively to the announcement saying:
“We welcome the AMA’s call for more funding for men’s health and agree that we need to help men live healthier lives by placing greater focus on the social factors that shape male health such as boys’ education, our experiences of fatherhood, men’s working lives, healthy social connections and access to male-friendly health services. We’ll be addressing these and other issues at the National Men’s Health Gathering in November and we encourage GPs to join us to discuss how we can work together to improve male health.”
AMHF is the peak body for men’s health in Australia and represents a broad range of individuals, organisations and community groups, which focus on addressing the social determinants of men’s health. According to AMHF, Australia is one of the world’s healthiest societies, yet men die six years younger than women on average. Men and boys in Australia also account for:
- 95% of workplace deaths
- 4 out of 5 heart disease deaths (before the age of 65)
- 3 out 4 of suicides
- 3 out 4 road deaths
- 2 out of 3 violent deaths
When it comes to life expectancy, there is a clear health gap between males and females, which starts in the womb and continues throughout life. Research shows that:
- Boys are more likely to be miscarried or stillborn
- 3 out of 4 sudden infant deaths are boys
- 3 out 5 children who die before the age of 15 are boys
- 70% of people aged 15-24 who die are male
- Over 60% of people who die before 65 are male
- Men under 75 are twice as likely as women to die from preventable causes
- Women are 3 times more likely to live to 100 and older
To help tackle these men’s health issues, the Australian Medical Association has identified 11 actions that is says will help improve men and boys’ health. They are:
- Developing a new National Men’s Heath Strategy
- Creating innovative outreach programs targeting men
- Encouraging meaningful relationships between men and their GP
- Improving health literacy among boys and adolescents
- Taking action to reduce male suicide rates
- Giving men and women an equal opportunity to live a healthy life
- Providing more funding and resources to analyse the social determinants of men’s health
- Ensuring initiatives that address the health needs of one gender should not be at the expense of the other gender.
- Considering the social and cultural determinants of health alongside the physiological determinants of health
- Increasing funding for the early detection and treatment of illnesses like prostate cancer and improving men’s access to mental health services.
- Taking account of the needs of migrant men in health promotion activity.
Jonathan Bedloe said that while AMHF fully supported the Australian Medical Association’s call for new men’s health strategy, that it was vital that such a strategy:
- Builds on the strengths of the 2010 National Men’s Health Policy
- Is underpinned by funding for men’s health research
- Is backed up with substantial funding to implementation the strategy
- Is overseen by a named minister with responsibility for Men’s Health
- Is supported by men’s health policies in every State and Territory.