19 June 2020

New report says issues affecting older men are not highly valued

Men’s health has been neglected in local, national and global health policy, says a major report with contributions from Europa Uomo, published to mark Men’s Health Week.

Published by Global Action on Men’s Health, the new report finds that, for policy makers, men's health has been a problem hiding in plain sight. For example, an analysis of 35 national health policies in the WHO European Region member states found that the term “men's health” appeared once.

The report is based on surveys, a literature review and interviews with key informants, including André Deschamps, Chairman of Europa Uomo.

Focusing on prostate cancer, it points out that although there have been significant improvements in treatment and care over 30 years, insufficient attention has been paid to many issues such as lack of awareness, gaps in medical training, delayed diagnoses, inequitable access to effective treatments and lack of support. It points to Europa Uomo’s recent research showing that quality of life issues are under-recognised.

Prostate cancer has been overlooked “because it is a men’s health issue and, generally, men’s health issues are marginalised,” the report concludes.

“Prostate cancer mainly affects older men who are generally not highly valued. There is a widespread (and false) belief that men are more likely to die with rather than of prostate cancer. The fear, embarrassment and stigma about prostate cancer and its treatments inhibit men with lived experience from publicly advocating change. Advocacy groups have so far not been able to push politicians to take sufficient action.”

“Sharp differences of opinion among clinicians on key issues, not least screening, have also made it harder for policymakers to formulate strategies.”