International Men’s Health Week is a reminder for health service providers in rural and remote communities and men themselves to get together to protect and improve male health and wellbeing.
In the past, the archetypal masculine attitudes of ‘unbreakable blokes’ and the rural ideology which promoted rugged individualism may have discouraged rural men from seeking help on their health. This contributed to the situation in which rural men have poorer health and lower life expectancy today than their fellow citizens.
For this reason people at the recent 11th National Rural Health Conference welcomed the consultative processes and plans brought together in the National Men’s Health Policy.
Launched in May 2010 and the first of its kind in Australia, the policy provides a framework for achieving equal health outcomes for all males, particularly those at risk of poor health. This is particularly important for rural men, who are more likely than their city counterparts to experience chronic conditions and health risk factors. Overall, male injury and death rates increase with remoteness.
This week’s report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) shows that many Australian men could be doing more to protect and improve their health.
Although Australian male life expectancy, at 79 years, is the fourth highest in the OECD, men need to be aware of the facts about their health. Only about 40 per cent discuss healthy lifestyle issues with health professionals but a greater proportion of emergency department presentations are by men. Only 5 per cent of adult males eat the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables and about two-thirds of adult males and one-quarter of boys are overweight or obese.
The AIHW report notes that those at increased risk of poor health include Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander males, and males living in rural and remote areas. The Alliance is interested in the AIHW’s plans to produce a second report on the health of these specific population groups including on the basis of their socioeconomic characteristics and geographical location.
The National Men’s Health Policy encourages men to take simple steps to improve their health such as sharing their family history with a GP, knowing their healthy weight, and quitting smoking. It also has principles for programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males.
Note to Editors: The Alliance has today farewelled one of the really good blokes, Media Adviser Marshall Wilson, who has retired to the Bush to spend more time with Elizabeth. Good luck and love to them both!