Equality for Men

Twelve months ago I initiated a Senate inquiry into men’s health. Since then I have struggled to explain my interest in this area, save that I am personally interested in staying healthy.

Thus, as someone blessed with good health (so far), I approach the subject as a man interested in the health of all men.

But men’s health is normally a subject matter associated with those in poor health or those who love them. It often seems that the partners, sons and daughters of men are more interested in the welfare of their significant man than he is. This has to change.

It is my hope that men will realise the important role they have in sustaining our families and communities. When they do, perhaps they will also recognise the importance of regular medical checkups and staying healthy.

However, it is not enough for men to acknowledge the importance of maintaining good health. It is about time that government did too. The Senate inquiry was a step in the right direction. So too is the promise of a national men’s health policy.

But until there actually is a national men’s health policy, inequities will remain in the treatment of men’s and women’s health. Consider for a moment the two most prevalent cancers affecting men and women.

Breast cancer has a national program of screening, diagnosis and treatment designed to protect the longevity of good health of all women. Every MRI conducted as part of a breast cancer screening program is subsidised by Medicare, as well it should be.

On the other hand, prostate cancer has no national screening program and no ‘best practice’ treatment. Men confronted with this disease, which claims more lives than breast cancer in women, have to wear the cost of their MRI scan and have a myriad of treatment options based on opinion, age and hope.

Frankly, that’s not good enough. It’s about time we invested in research to determine the cause and best treatment of prostate cancer and the plethora of other issues relating to men’s health. We have all seen the benefits of similar programs to the longevity and welfare of women, so why are we leaving men behind?

Sure, there is some residual stubbornness on the part of men to take their heath seriously, but we need to break down those barriers to protect not only the interests of all men but the interests of our society.

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