Professor Dame Sally C Davies
Chief Medical Officer
Department of Health
79 Whitehall Richmond House
London SW1A 2NS
5th March 2017
Dear Professor Dame Sally C Davies
Annual Report – “Health of the 49%: Men”
Further to the welcome communication exchange last year on the subject matter of your Annual Report, the Men and Boys Coalition is requesting that you again give consideration to the request for the subject of your forthcoming Annual Report to be on men’s health.
Last year over 40 leading charities, academics and professionals wrote to you (27 March 2016) requesting that consideration be given to making the topic of your next annual report to be on men’s health. This was on the basis that your 2014 Annual Report (published December 2015) was on women’s health – a report that we support because of its gendered approach to health.
Given that last year’s report was on baby boomers, the Men and Boys Coalition is requesting that you consider basing your annual report this year on men’s health. The Coalition is a formal network of 60 charities, academics and professionals including those who signed last year’s letter.
As set out in 2016 and subsequently in this letter, we support a gendered approach to health for both men and women. We endorse the approach taken by the Republic of Ireland and Australia who have understood the requirement for a gendered approach to health and enacted dedicated men’s health policies and plans.
We believe that following the annual report on women’s health, a subsequent report on men’s health would provide a better understanding for the health community of the need for a gendered approach to health. This will ultimately provide better health outcomes for men and women.
For men, this would include improving life expectancy, ensuring health services were more accessible and male-friendly, and, also providing a gendered approach on particular health issue that affect men. These include mental health/suicide, the need for healthier lifestyles and also preventative measures/earlier diagnosis of diseases such as prostate and lung cancer. It could also include the health sector’s different approach to issues that affect men and women such as HPV vaccinations and access to medicines such as PrEP.
The Irish and Australian policies also include a focus on the social determinants of health, how these affect males and what measures can be put in place in to address them. This is a perspective in the United Kingdom that has little prominence, which we feel needs to be recognised and addressed.
Unlike, Australia, the United Kingdom does not have a ‘Ten to Men’ longitudinal study of male health to bring together separate academic discourses on male health. In addition, in Ireland, their Department for Health produced a report on the state of Irish men’s health as a precursor to instigating their men’s health policy and plan.
This is why a report from the Chief Medical Officer is vital to the health of men in the United Kingdom as it may assist in providing a rationale for a male health policy and plans here. As set out, we would also welcome the same approach for women’s health as well and the report that you produced on women acts as a crucial starting point for this, in the same way a report on men’s health would.
In summary, we believe that to improve health outcomes for both men and women, we need a gendered approach to health. Your annual report on women’s health showed the importance of this view and it has had an important impact on how the health community and the Department for Health approaches women’s health.
This is why we feel that it is as important that you take the same approach for men and that your next annual report is on men’s health. This would act as a catalyst to improve the health of men throughout the United Kingdom.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Co-founder The Men and Boys Coalition