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Sunday, 20 Aug 2017

History – Lessons learned from HP 2010

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Unlike the current process, where the public is invited to offer suggestions before HP 2020 is written, HP 2010 was first introduced to the public as a draft in 1998. It was scheduled to take effect in 2000. HP 2010 offered little for men and focused almost entirely on health problems of women.

Of 39 health problems where gender was identified as an issue, 37 focused on the health concerns of women but only 2 offered guidance for men.

Even though women were outliving men by more than 6 years, women were identified as "the" high risk group, meaning that the health care system would have focused on women to the almost total exclusion of men for the next 10 years.

 

Men's health activists took action and made their voices heard.

Men's Health Network (MHN) offered a section-by-section analysis of the document. Read that analysis here. (pdf)

Activists offered testimony at regional meetings.

Activists provided suggestions to the framers of HP 2010 via the Internet portal provided for that purpose.

Men's Health Network contacted key members of the Steering Committee that was responsible for writing HP 2010 and expressed concern about the document. MHN was supportive of the proposed efforts proposed to improve women’s health, but was concerned that men’s health would be relegated to a minor effort.

 

The result?

No specific high risk group was designated, meaning that HP 2010 would provide guidance for the health concerns of both men and women.

  • Gender specific health issues were addressed, as appropriate (breast cancer, cervical, prostate, etc.).
  • The prostate cancer section was expanded.
  • Gender disparities in health were added as a key element in HP 2010.

Goal 2: Eliminate Health Disparities

The second goal of Healthy People 2010 is to eliminate health disparities among segments of the population, including differences that occur by gender, race or ethnicity, education or income, disability, geographic location, or sexual orientation. This section highlights ways in which health disparities can occur among various demographic groups in the United States.

Gender

Whereas some differences in health between men and women are the result of biological differences, others are more complicated and require greater attention and scientific exploration. Some health differences are obviously gender specific, such as cervical and prostate cancers.

Overall, men have a life expectancy that is 6 years less than that of women and have higher death rates for each of the 10 leading causes of death. For example, men are two times more likely than women to die from unintentional injuries and four times more likely than women to die from firearm-related injuries. Although overall death rates for women currently may be lower than for men, women have shown increased death rates over the past decade in areas where men have experienced improvements, such as lung cancer. Women also are at greater risk for Alzheimer’s disease than men are and twice as likely as men to be affected by major depression.

  • Some states have answered this call by examining gender disparities and attempting to address those issues. Go here to determine if your state took this part of HP 2010 seriously. (link)
  • Still other states, at the urging of MHN, have created men's health commissions or established men's health offices within their public health system to address the needs of men and boys in their state.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, at the urging of committees in Congress, has started establishing men's health pages on key agency web sites. This is a sample of the Congressional language:

The Committee understands that there is no entity in the Department responsible for the coordination and oversight of activities across the Agency concerning men's health. The Committee is aware of reports that men are 25 percent less likely than women to receive regular health screenings, and that one of the top problems facing men's health is that men are not likely to visit a doctor when they notice a problem. The Committee encourages the Secretary to expand Departmental disease prevention and health promotion activities among men and to give consideration to establishing an office for men, similar to the Office of Women's Health.

Want to learn more about men’s health in your state? Go to the State of Men’s Health web site.