International Men’s Health Week

International Men’s Health Week, to be held from 9 to 15 June 2008, is a week of activities designed to raise awareness of men’s health and related issues. Men and boys face specific health concerns relating to anatomical and biological differences and also to differences in lifestyle and culture which are far too often overlooked. International Men’s Health Week is an important opportunity to encourage men to attend regular check-ups with their doctors and other health services.

International Men’s Health Week, to be held from 9 to 15 June 2008, is a week of activities designed to raise awareness of men’s health and related issues. Men and boys face specific health concerns relating to anatomical and biological differences and also to differences in lifestyle and culture which are far too often overlooked. International Men’s Health Week is an important opportunity to encourage men to attend regular check-ups with their doctors and other health services. As Professor John MacDonald, the Co-director of the University of Western Sydney’s Men’s Health Information and Resource Centre, said in 2007, and I strongly endorse these comments:

The key is to make the annual check-up a normal part of men’s lives—much like taking the car to the mechanic for an annual service is accepted as essential for the safe and optimal performance of the car.

It is important that we act decisively on men’s health issues. Australian men have an average life expectancy of 78 years compared to 83 years for women, and it is not only the quantity of life which is important but the quality of life we enjoy. Disease such as diabetes, kidney disease, mental health and obesity related illnesses severely impact on the quality of life enjoyed by Australian men. The prevalence of diabetes is increasing. There are probably 5,000 people with diabetes in my electorate alone.

Labor governments have a proud record of developing comprehensive national health policies. In 1989, Australia’s first national women’s health policy was launched by a Labor government. Dr Carmen Lawrence, the former member for Fremantle and Minister for Human Services and Health, had prepared a national men’s health policy in 1995 prior to the election. Those opposite failed to deal with the issue comprehensively when they reached the Treasury benches in 1996.

As announced by the Minister for Health and Ageing in November 2007, the Rudd Labor government will launch a national men’s health policy. It is currently under active development by the Department of Health and Ageing in consultation with state and territory governments, health providers, consumer groups, advocacy groups and of course Australian men.

On 14 June, I plan to attend the International Men’s Health Week function to be held by the Bayside General Practice Network at Mentone in my electorate of Isaacs. This event will help to raise awareness amongst men about the need to get regular health check-ups from their doctors. I look forward to taking part in this community health event at one of the local hardware stores in my electorate. I would encourage other members in this place to do so in their respective electorates.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed among Australian men. I was involved earlier this year in a long-distance charity bike ride to raise funds for prostate cancer research with several other federal parliamentarians from both major parties including the members for Parramatta, Wills, Oxley, Menzies, Farrer, Macarthur and—I almost forgot—Warringah.

The government will invest $15 million over five years to two dedicated prostate cancer research centres—the first in Australia. These centres will be at the forefront of developing new treatments and screening and diagnostic techniques in relation to prostate cancer. I would like to take this opportunity to commend to this place the great advocacy that the Treasurer, himself a survivor of prostate cancer, has made to ensuring that men are put in the best possible position to fight this terrible disease.

Bowel cancer is the second most common cancer amongst Australian men after prostate cancer and kills 80 Australians per week. The government has committed $87.2 million to screen all 50-, 55- and 65-year-olds for bowel cancer. The Rudd Labor government will not neglect the specific needs of men’s health. We understand that cardiovascular disease, diabetes and work related injuries affect more men than women.