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Monday, 24 May, 1999, 14:15 GMT 15:15 UK
Men 'need more health care'

Many men avoid going to the doctor for as long as possible
For every 1 spent on men's health, 8 is spent on women's health, according to a men's health group.

This and social attitudes towards men's health mean that men have a lower life expectancy, a higher suicide rate and a higher death rate from cancer than women, the Men's Health Forum said.

Launching a report on Monday, it called for a big increase in spending on research into men's health and for more imaginative ways to educate men about their health.

Suicide is the biggest killer of young men in some parts of the country. The Samaritans say 75% of suicides are male.

The forum says unemployment and changing attitudes towards male roles has contributed to an identity crisis and growing mental health problems among men.

There is also growing concern that problems such as prostate and testicular cancer are ignored by men until they are at a late stage when treatment is not as effective.

The forum says women are much better at getting to the doctor when they have a problem.

Macho attitudes to health mean men tend to avoid the doctor wherever possible.

A recent Mori poll showed that 40% of men only attend their GP surgery when told to do so by their partner.

Prostate cancer

Dr Ian Banks, chairman of the forum, says 37,000 a year is spent on research for prostate cancer, compared with 4.3m on breast cancer.

One charity exists to raise awareness about prostate cancer, compared with 150 on breast cancer.

Breast cancer is much better resourced than men's cancers
Prostate cancer kills around 10,000 men a year - four times the number of women who die from cervical cancer, which also gets much more resources.

Dr Banks said: "We don't want to be seen to be knocking women or saying that money should be switched from women's health to men's health.

"But we need to maintain women's health at the same time as improving male health.

"Women's health is inextricably linked to male health."

The forum's report, entitled Men's Health - a Public Health Review, calls for a public health strategy for men.

Public health minister Tessa Jowell attended the launch to give her support to the initiative.

Improving access

The forum, set up in 1994 by the Royal College of Nursing, said the government and other agencies should make more effort to help men access health resources.

A spokeswoman said: "We need to catch men early by targeting boys at school.

"We need to access men and not rely on them coming into doctors' surgeries.

"Men tend to be put off by clinical settings."

Outreach work at sports clubs and pubs had shown some success, she said.

The forum is also calling for more training to be given to doctors on how to get men to open up about their health worries.

Crisis lines for men and post-redundancy programmes are also proposed as well as practical measures to make suicide more difficult, for example, increasing the use of blister packs for paracetamols.

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04 May 99 | Health
Men suffer from baby blues
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