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Sinn Féin to host major Men's Health event

8 November, 2004

Sinn Féin health spokesperson, Upper Bann MLA Cllr John O'Dowd MLA, will host a major seminar on men's health issues in the Long Gallery at Stormont on Thursday November 11th which will be addressed by representatives of the Men's Health Forum (Ireland), the British Medical Association and the Institute of Public Health in Ireland.

Speaking today Mr O'Dowd said:

"I am pleased to host this major event which will examine various issues around men's health. This is an issue which transcends the border. Men in Ireland die, on average, nearly six years younger than women do, and have higher death rates at all ages, and across all the leading causes of death.

Evidence of sex differences in the incidence, symptoms, and prognosis of a wide range of health problems is also well documented.

"There has, however, been little evidence to date that these differences are reflected in the planning and delivery of healthcare, or in wider social and economic policies.

"Whilst the issue of women's health has been the source of extensive consultation and careful strategic planning, the same cannot be said for men's health. Although men have been identified as a target population group, for the first time, in the strategic planning of health promotion and healthcare (Department of Health and Children 2000; 2001), there appears to have been little momentum to act on these initiatives.

"There is growing evidence that in constructing, displaying and maintaining their male identity, men engage in risk behaviours that can be seriously hazardous to their health. Since sickness may be seen as an expression of weakness, many men may decide not to seek help and, instead, present a stoical, brave and unflinching front to the outside world.

"The absence of an effective all Ireland strategic policy on men's health is partially a result of very sparse and fragmented research into men's health in Ireland. However, there is also a need for an awareness-raising body which believes that there is a need to support the health needs of men. This event will, I believe, start the process of addressing a very serious problem." ENDS


Speakers at the Stormont event on Thursday November 11, which will commence at 12.00 noon include:

Cllr John O'Dowd MLA - Sinn Féin spokesperson on health and leader of the Party's grouping on Craigavon Council

Sé Franklin - Men's Health Forum in Ireland. Based in Dublin, Sé is also member of the Dublin Men's Coalition

Barry McGale - MHFI, Barry is a suicide awareness co-ordinator with the health Promotion department in Derry City

Owen Metcalfe - Associate Director, Institute of Public Health In Ireland, Dublin.The all Ireland Institute of Public Health originated with an awareness of common public health needs in Ireland, North and South. In 1998 the Department of Health and Social Services in the North of Ireland and the Department of Health and Children in the South agreed to establish an Institute in conjunction with the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland which would offer practical benefits through promoting all Ireland cooperation in the area of public health.

Dr Ian Banks - British Medical Association. A family doctor and casualty officer in Belfast, Ian represents GPs for the British Medical Association. Ian is the official spokesman on men's health issues for the BMA .He wrote the BBC book The Trouble with Men and the NHS Direct Healthcare Guide and web site.

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