In the course of this unit, I’ve formed my understanding of gender and health through class tutorials, discussions, and research. Moreover, the wide range of academic articles available on the topic allowed me to have a deep understanding of gender and health and to make connections between what has been discussed in theory and what can be observed in practice. For this essay, I would like to explain how, in my view, gender continues to influence health promotion activities in the U.K.
Health promotion activities, in my opinion, continue to be stereotyped against men. The sources of these stereotypes are difficult to establish especially because men are not usually at ease when it comes to discussing their health, but evidence of the uncomfortable trend can be seen in the health promotion advertisements that are flashed daily on our televisions, newspapers, billboards and other forms of media. My observation revealed that around 70 percent of health promotion advertisements aired between 7 P.M and 9 P.M on popular television stations target women and children as their primary audience. Against this backdrop, it should be the function of all stakeholders in the health sector to come up with strategies to correct this anomaly since men also need to be kept abreast of the current health information. A good point to start would be for the NHS to start airing video clips and other documentaries specifically targeting men’s health to enhance awareness.
From the many articles that I have perused through in the course of undertaking this unit, it has dawned on me that men and women access health services differently due to well-grounded socio-cultural projections and beliefs. Men, for instance, may take several days to seek medical attention whenever confronted by a health condition, while women seek assistance with an almost immediacy. Such a trend, though deeply rooted in the cultural beliefs of masculinity and feminity, may hamper health promotion activities since many men seek medical assistance when the ailment has already progressed. I would therefore propose that all interested parties in the health sector take a proactive approach in educating the men on the need to seek early intervention measures if they are confronted with a medical condition. Such education programs, in my view, should also provide feedback to assist establish fundamental gender health priorities for interested parties, including the NHS.
Another observation that I would be delighted to outline in this context is that there exist variations between men and women in the occurrence and prevalence of a multiplicity of diseases ranging from various forms of cancers to heart ailments to kidney failures. Although biological enlightenment has made us have a vague clue about the sources of these variations, it is my opinion that health promotion activities effected in the U.K has so far failed to link these variations to the way individuals behave across gender. From my observation, I can attest to the fact that men are not only more predisposed to particular health conditions than women owing to their lifestyle habits, but the same men refuse or ignore to use of health services with a high degree of effectiveness mostly witnessed in women. The smoking and drinking habits of most men, for instance, exposes them to more health complications than women, while it is clear that men may renege from completing their therapy mid-way – an issue that is mostly non-existent in women. This anomaly needs to be corrected by developing newer health promotion strategies that will lay much focus on lifestyle attributes rather than biological predispositions. The strategies, in my view, should also focus on establishing frameworks through which men can be educated on the need to effectively complete their treatments for effective control of illnesses.