Health crisis: she'll be right

Health crisis: she'll be right

THE AUSTRALIAN health system has been geared towards women at the expense of men's well-being, according to a health expert.

University of Western Sydney director of men's health, Professor John Macdonald, used Men's Health Week as an opportunity to challenge the status quo allowing men to fall between the cracks.

He said debate about men's health has for too long been dominated by the perception that males won't engage with the health system.

But Professor Macdonald said: ''It's too simple to just say blokes don't go to the doctor, blokes don't speak about their health, blokes don't look after themselves.

''Sorry, but that's not true. It is true that men are dying younger than women and people look for an explanation and try to blame blokes. We shouldn't just be saying men should do things, when society also has to do things.''


Professor Macdonald said it's time Australian health services reached out to men. He said the health system routinely courts the fairer sex, so it's become normalised for women to be proactive.

''We live in a feminised world. Feminism has its place and women still get a rotten deal in many places,'' Professor Macdonald said. ''But that has led us to this position where we have lots of programs for women and children but we don't have any for men.''

The federal government released a National Male Health Policy in 2010, which calls on health providers to create male-friendly services. But Professor Macdonald said the health system still hasn't embraced the strategy.

He urged Canberrans to help force a change by asking health authorities how they are improving men's health. ''Ask GPs and community health services, 'national health policy says to be more male friendly, what are you doing to be more male friendly'.''

Demographer Bernard Salt said a man's life-cycle lacks the physical milestones obvious in a woman's development. It means men interact with the health system less and fall into a culture of delusion.

''Women are more compelled to seek health advice through their lives and there's a greater culture of addressing bodily issues, whereas men don't have those check-in points in life that force them to address the way their bodies are changing and as a consequence they prefer to set and forget,'' Mr Salt said.

He said men should take cues from women's cultural focus on risks associated with ageing. ''It's not a competition with women, it's something men need to learn from women. It's a cultural issue more than it's a medical issue.''

But the best form of healthcare was preventative, former Brumby and Wallaby Clyde Rathbone said.

Mr Rathbone owns and operates Health Futures, a business that runs health programs for business and government departments.

He said most health issues could be prevented through a healthy diet, exercise, regular sleep, sun exposure and social interaction.

''It's not rocket science, just do some simple things consistently,'' Mr Rathbone said. ''If you can tick all those boxes you will mitigate the majority of health problems.''

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