Men’s Health Services and Policies

Introduction

Health is a situation in which a person is psychologically, socially and physically well, and not essentially the absence of illness (Karoski, 2011). On the other hand, health services are services offered by the health facility to make a person well and it includes preventive, curative and rehabilitative (Karoski, 2011). Furthermore, Men’s health is an issue that can affect a man’s quality of life thus interfering with his physical, emotional and social well-being (Karoski, 2011). There are health problems that affect men disproportionately, for instance, Australian men’s life expectancy is less than women’s by 4.8 years and to add on this, men under 75 years are three times more likely to die from cardiovascular diseases than women ( Karoski, 2011). Despite these statistics, men are reluctant to seek medical attention or even to talk to a health practitioner concerning their health (Karoski, 2011). Although many men across the world are reluctant to seek medical help, the men in Australia are extremely reluctant (Bomman & Walker, 2010) and for this reason, the National Men Health Policy was developed (Snowdown & McCleland 2009).

National Men Health Policy

The development of the policy was after through investigations that not only involved the Australian government but also health care professionals and the Australian men (Australia Government, 2009 ). The development of the policy was because there existed health inequality between the females and the males yet the health of the men is important and holistic ( Snowdown & McCleland, 2009). Moreover, the different groups in the male population have different health outcomes (Snowdown & McCleland, 2009). For example, the mortality rate of the men was higher than that of the female across all the age groups and in addition, the males had a high rate of premature death and they lost 75% of life’s potential years in 2005 ( Snowdown & McCleland, 2009). The policy stated that there should be equality in health between the different population groups of the male (Holde, McLachlan, & Collins, 2011). Additionally, the policy covers six priority areas that offer a direction for its implementation (Snowdown & McCleland, 2009) and it provides a framework that helps in improving the health of men by encouraging every man to take an action towards his health by recognizing that it requires information, support and assistance (Australia Government, 2009).

Priority areas within the policy

The life expectancy of men is low mostly because of preventable diseases like cardiovascular and lung cancers, which are more prevalent in men than women (Australia Government, 2009). To add to this, the Aboriginal and Torres men are vulnerable and they have a life expectancy of 11.5 years lower than men who are non-indigenous (Australia Government, 2009). Because of this, the policy aims at implementing its objectives in the six areas of priority (Australia Government, 2009). The first is the health outcome of men to be optimal and it involves the development of health services that take into account the health of men (Snowdown & McCleland 2009). The second is the male group population to have health equity and this involves delivering services while taking into account the needs of the various population groups of the men so that equity prevails across the entire male group (Snowdown & McCleland 2009). The third is the male to have improved health at different stages of life and this is concerned with the delivery of services while taking into account the needs of the various population ages that exist in the male population (Sweet, 2010). The fourth is the males’ health to have a preventive focus and it is concerned with the promotion of health so that the male population at risk does not acquire preventable diseases (Snowdown & McCleland 2009). The fifth is to build strong evidence based on the health of male and this is concerned with development of policies and programs that helps improve the health of the men (Snowdown & McCleland 2009). Finally is to ensure male access health care by making sure that those services are readily available to them (Sweet, 2010).

Importance that men place on their health

Women’s health usually takes a front seat when matters of disease prevention and early detection arises (University of Illnois, 2007). Men are more likely to smoke, take alcohol and live a life that is not healthy (University of Illnois, 2007). Furthermore, they are likely to cancel checkups and delay seeking medical attention when they experience the signs and symptoms of a disease and men who are working are less likely to have neither a health insurance cover nor a doctors checkups thus preventable disease affects them most of the time (University of Illnois, 2007). Men need to understand the importance of health because they usually suffer from preventable disease and one of the health issues facing Australian men is the cardiovascular diseases (Australia Government, 2007). The high prevalence of the cardiovascular disease in Australian men forced the government to focus on the fourth priority area that entails the male preventive health (Schepersa, Dongenb, & Decker, 2009). This priority area helps in increasing the literacy of men about health through health promotion so that men can value their health and place more importance to it (Snowdown & McCleland, 2009).

Barriers that hinder men from accessing health services

Financial barrier especially lack of an insurance cover has lead to a decrease in health seeking behavior (Whitely, Benilda, & Wright, 2007). In a research conducted in Queensland, 8% of the people did not see a general practitioner because of the high cost (Statistics Bureau of Australia, 2010). In an event where a general practitioner consultation delays, cardiovascular diseases develop and this causes harm to the body (Australia Government, 2007). Some people do not see a general practitioner because they cannot afford the prescribed medication (Statistics Bureau of Australia, 2010). For instance, 9% of the people in a research done in Queensland could not afford their medication (Statistics Bureau of Australia, 2010). If people cannot afford medication, it means that the disease condition that they suffer from will progress leading to a high mortality rate and in this case it means that most men will die because they do not seek medical attention due to lack of money to procure the prescribed medication(Australia Government, 2007).

An understanding of health of men depends on a thorough examination and analysis of men’s health (Smith & Robertson, 2008). A research done showed that most men glue to masculinity ideals that make them less likely to seek medical attention and more likely to engaged in behaviors that are risky to health (Bomman & Walker, 2010). The way a man believes about himself influences his health seeking behavior (Whitely, Benilda, & Wright, 2007). A man would rather associate his illness to a certain cause than seeking medical advice because he believes that men should endure pain (Bomman & Walker, 2010). Because of this believe, the fourth priority area focus on educating the men about the benefits of seeking medical attention so that this assumption that men should endure pain goes away (Snowdown & McCleland, 2009). If alleviation of this mentality comes out successfully, men will seek medical services in advance thus reducing the occurrence of cardiovascular disorders.

Most men do not seek medical advice because they believe that it is time consuming (Schepersa, Dongenb, & Decker, 2009). In a research done in Queensland, 47% of the people could not seek medical attention because of the long waiting times and lack of appointments (Statistics Bureau of Australia, 2010). This issue of time consuming is very critical because it interferes with the health seeking behavior of men and if this issue pass unnoticed, men will suffer from preventable diseases like the cardiovascular diseases (Australia Government, 2007). The fourth priority area focus on health promotion so that health prevails among the majority of men thus a reduction in the number of people seeking medical attention hence a reduction in time that people wait before being attended by a health care practitioner ( Snowdown & McCleland, 2009).

Health promotion strategies

The promotion of good health is a preventive strategy geared towards maintenance of health (Australia Government, 2007). This strategy aims at alleviating cardiovascular disease because it is a preventable killer disease for most men in Australia (Australia Government, 2007). Cardiovascular diseases are responsible for 41.8% of all death in Australia (Australia Government.,2007) and that is the reason why the fourth priority area which focus on the prevention of men’s health addresses this issue appropriately ( Snowdown & McCleland, 2009).

Health promotion relies on three approaches, which are education, engineering and enforcement of law (Lambevski, Kippax, & Crawford, 2010). All these approaches helps in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases which have a preventable risks that includes high levels of cholesterol, obesity, smoking of cigarettes, physical inactiveness and an increase in blood pressure (University of Illnois, 2007).

The fourth priority area has a focus on both primary and secondary prevention (Snowdown & McCleland, 2009). Primary prevention helps in reduction of the development of a disease and it includes increasing awareness of the risk factors of cardiovascular diseases to enhance its elimination while secondary prevention reduces the progression of the disease (Snowdown & McCleland, 2009).

Health education is the key step in alleviation of cardiovascular diseases because researches have shown that there is a low literacy level of health in Australia and that 43% of the males had a minimum level of health literacy (Snowdown & McCleland 2009). As a result, the health education focus on increasing the literacy of health and in this case it is concerned about reducing the levels of cardiovascular diseases in men (Statistics Bureau of Australia, 2010). The education aims at achieving the following: First, it helps men understand the risk factor of cardiovascular diseases, secondly, it assist them to know the early signs of the disease and finally it helps men know where to seek the appropriate health services (Australia Government, 2007).

The nurses’ role in addressing the health issue

The role of the nurse in addressing the health issue of cardiovascular diseases is that of a community health nurse and it is the health promotion role (Cariboo, 2009). This is a planned action aiming at empowering people to take control of their health by controlling the determining factors of health (Cariboo, 2009). The nurse gathers information about cardiovascular disease and develops strategies that will prevent this disease from having a high prevalence in the male group (Cariboo, 2009). The nurse works collaboratively with the men by giving them information about the cardiovascular diseases and the strategies they should use to promote and maintain health (Cariboo, 2009). For example, the nurse can inform people on the importance of keeping their heart healthy as it includes simple measures like avoiding cigarette smoking, reducing the amount of alcohol intake and stress management (Blackmore, 2009). Researches conducted have shown that men have a decreased awareness of mental health issues thus a reduction in the level of seeking medical attention (Snowdown & McCleland, 2009). For instance, 45% of the male did not know that depression is a mental health problem and to add on this, 21% of the males were not familiar with the major mental health problems (Snowdown & McCleland, 2009). Due to this mentality, the nurse’s role is to create awareness about health issues that has an impact on cardiovascular diseases so that the literacy level of the men about cardiovascular diseases increases while the incidence of the disease drop ( Cariboo, 2009).

Conclusion

It is evident that the national men health policy will alleviate the cardiovascular disease which is a contemporary health issue facing Australian men (Australia Government, 2007). Moreover, this is possible through the fourth priority area that focuses on the prevention because prevention is better than treatment of the illness as it reduces the incidence of a disease (Snowdown & McCleland, 2009). The barriers that hinders men from seeking health services is also addressed in this fourth priority because the priority focus on improving the literacy of men about health so as to alleviate any excuse for not seeking health care services ( Snowdown & McCleland, 2009). Finally, the community nurse easily implements the health promotion strategy that plays a significant role in alleviation of the cardiovascular diseases because the nurse possesses all the required skills (Cariboo, 2009).

References

Australia Government. (2009). Launch of Australia First National Male Health Policy. National Health Policy ,10(8), 3-6.

Australia Government. (2007). National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Health Framework for Action by the Government. National Health Priority Journal , 23(3), 3-5.

Blackmore, C. (2009). Top Five Health Issues Affecting Men. Red Cross Journal , 13(9), 3.

Bomman, E., & Walker, G. (2010). Self Reliance, Masculinity and Resistance to seeking Help. Psychology of Men and Masculinity , 11(2), 113-115.

Cariboo, T. (2009). Role of the Community Health Nurse in In Aboriginal Communities. Community Health Nurse Journal , 6(5), 10-15.

Holde, C., McLachlan, R., & Collins, V. (2011). Tackling Inequalities in Men’s Health: A Reflective Lens on the National Male Health Policy. Madical Journal of Australia , 194(2), 62-64.

Karoski, S. (2011). Has the health System Failed Men? The Perception of the Men’s Movement on the Men’s Health in Australia. International Journal of Mens Health, 27(6), 4-10.

Lambevski, S., Kippax, S., & Crawford, J. (2010). Masculinity in Contemporary Urban Australia. Living as Men , 10(12), 1-4.

Schepersa, E., Dongenb, E., & Decker, J. (2009). Potential Barrier to the Use of Health Services Among Ethnic Minorities. Oxford Journal of Medicine , 23(3), 325-348.

Smith, J., & Robertson, S. (2008). Mens Health Promotion: A New Frontier in Australia. Health Promotion International Journal , 2(4), 283-284.

Snowdown, W., & McCleland, R. (2009). building on the Strength of Australian males. National Male Health policy , 84(3), 7-23.

Statistics Bureau of Australia. (2010). Health Services: Patients Experience in Australia. Australian Bureau of Statistics , 55(1), 14.

sweet, M. (2010). What Difference will the New Mens Health Policy Make. Health Policy , 6(20), 7.

University of Illnois. (2007). Health Promotion: The importance of Men Health. Journal of Human Development , 91(7), 1-3.

Whitely, E., Benilda, S., & Wright, R. (2007). Identification of barriers to health Care Access for Underserved Men in Denver. The Journal of Mens Health and Gender , 2(4), 421-428.

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