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The seminar hosted by Christel Schaldemose (S & D, DK) focused on men’s health as a vital public health issue. Health Commissioner Tonio Borg highlighted the importance of reducing health inequalities and explained how the Commission takes into account the gender dimension within its policies to improve men’s health. He stressed that prevention of diseases is much more cost effective than the cure.

– The résumé of the event is available here
Background information
On 25 August 2011, the European Commission published a new Report entitled “The State of Men’s Health in Europe”. The document gathers data from more than 30 European countries on men’s health status, particularities and specific needs related to specific diseases.

– For more information see “The State of Men’s Health in Europe” – a new Commission publication.

Health Commissioner Tonio Borg highlighted the fact that there are huge inequalities within the European Union as regards health. And these inequalities are not based solely on economic development.

Key messages from the Health Commissioner

  • The EU Health strategy takes into account the gender dimension, and one of its aims is to improve data collection about women’s and men’s health
  • Women tend to live longer than men and the gap between life expectancy varies between 3 and 11 years in the 27 member states.
  • Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) and cancer are more frequent in men than in women.
  • Communicable diseases are still an important cause of premature death amongst the male population.
  • As regards men’s mental health, depression is underdetected, underdiagnosed and undertreated in all European countries.
  • The Commissioner recently launched a new joint action with on mental health with member states, which takes into account gender differences.
  • Concerning lifestyle and risk factors of preventable diseases men tend to smoke and drink more than women.
  • Cycling and walking to work would help improve health and overall life expectancy
  • Discrimination in health systems based on gender is unacceptable.
  • Member states should appreciate that prevention of diseases is much more cost effective than cure. Commissioner Borg highlighted the opportunities that e-Health presents to avoid unnecessary healthcare costs.

Key messages

  • There is six years difference between life expectancy of men and women. [In its [briefing on health inequalities, EPHA highlighted that between EU member states, there is a five-fold difference in deaths of babies under one year of age, a 14-year gap in life expectancy at birth for men and an 8 year gap for women. Differences in life expectancy at birth between the lowest and highest socio-economic groups reaches ten years for men and six years for women. Although women tend to live longer than men, they also spend a longer proportion of their life in ill-health]].
  • Men’s health is not only a gender but also a crucial public health issue.
  • The EU should develop guidelines concerning best practices on how to prevent suicide and how to communicate with men about it.
  • Ireland developed a National Men’s Policy and Action Plan which includes mental health trainings for men.


  • The recognition of men’s physical and mental health as an area of public health concern.
  • Inclusion of men’s health within decision making.
  • Either the European Union or the European Member States should develop a specific men’s health policy (in parallel with a women’s health policy).

-*Having a men’s health policy document can:
. Identify men’s health as a priority area,
. create a vision, identity and branding for men’s health,
. provide a framework for action and a roadmap for practitioners and ongoing health policy development and
. gives leverage to expanding men’s health work


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