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Men's health requires a sustained focus

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Men have higher premature death rates Men have higher premature death rates in certain conditions

Last year, the State of Men's Health in Europe report was launched by the European Commissioner.

This provided a comprehensive overview of the state of men's health across the 27 Member States of the European Union, the four states of the European Free Trade Association (Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Lichtenstein) and the three candidate countries (Croatia, Turkey, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia).

It was the first time the health of half of the population had been examined and since its launch it has had a lot of coverage in the media and has caught the attention of many health professionals and politicians.

I am not sure what the fuss was about. Nurses know there are serious issues relating to men and their health and that no matter what area you explore you will find significant concerns.

Nurses know full well that men are at greater risk of developing and dying from all the cancers that should affect men and women equally.

Nurses are well aware that men have higher premature death rates for CVD, diabetes, pneumonia, influenza, chronic lower respiratory disease, hepatitis, problems of the digestive system - in fact nearly all those diseases that should affect men and women equally.

Nurses know that much of men's mental distress goes unrecognised and can account for the break-ups of many marriages, job losses, offending and homelessness. It can also help explain the excessive suicide rates in men.

The way men are socialised from childhood influences the way they use health services, such that most current mainstream provision is difficult to access, especially when working full-time.

So what is all the fuss? Perhaps a bit of fuss is worthwhile. Nurses can make a difference if they turn their mind and abilities to the challenge.

Professor Alan White (PhD, RN), Professor of Men's Health, Leeds Metropolitan University

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