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Government recognises failing men’s health

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The Federal Government will establish a National Male Health Strategy.

To run from 2020 to 2030, the announced strategy is in response to the poorer health outcomes experienced by Australian males compared to females.

The Government hopes to identify what is needed to improve male health, and will develop the strategy in consultation with key experts and public feedback.

Health Minister Greg Hunt used the occasion of Men’s Health Week in June to announce the plan, saying developing a good strategy was important because more males die at every stage of life.

“Males have more accidents, are more likely to take their own lives, and are more prone to lifestyle-related chronic health conditions than women and girls at the same age,” Mr Hunt said.

In April, the Government also announced further funding for Men’s Sheds to support the mental health and overall wellbeing of Australian men. The funding is a part of the total $5.1 million that the Government is providing to the Australian Men’s Shed Association over the three years to June 2019.

AMA President Dr Tony Bartone said the AMA was pleased the Federal Government recognised that Australian males have poorer health outcomes, on average, than Australian females. He welcomed the announcement of the strategy.

The AMA called for a National Men’s Health Strategy in its Position Statement on Men’s Health 2018, released in April.

“An appropriately-funded and implemented National Male Health Strategy is needed to deliver a cohesive platform for the improvement of male health service access and men’s health outcomes,” Dr Bartone said.

He said it was important medically because Australian men are less likely to seek treatment from a general practitioner or other health professional, and are less likely to have the supports and social connections needed when they experience physical and mental health problems.

Dr Bartone said Australian men should regularly take the opportunity to do something positive for their physical or mental health.

“Book in for a preventive health check with a trusted GP, get some exercise, have an extra alcohol-free day, or reach out to check on the wellbeing of a mate,” Dr Bartone said.

The AMA Position Statement called for a major overhaul of men’s health policy, including a new national strategy to address the different expectations, experiences, and situations facing Australian men.

Dr Bartone said that the AMA looked forward to engaging with the Federal Government to develop initiatives to address the reasons why men are reluctant to engage with GPs, and the consequence of that reluctance.

The AMA wants investment in innovative models of care to overcome such barriers.

In 2008, the Rudd Labor Government developed a National Male Health Policy, the first for Australia. Part of this program’s funding enabled an Australian Longitudinal Study on Male Health to build a strong evidence base in male health. The study can be found here: https://tentomen.org.au/

The AMA Position Statement on Men’s Health 2018 is at position-statement/mens-health-2018

MARIA HAWTHORNE and MEREDITH HORNE

 

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