The Scottish Executive is happy to support men's health week as part of the drive to improve the health of the nation as a whole. The Scottish Executive has been funding Men's Health Forum Scotland for three years. That organisation promotes and co-ordinates activities and events throughout Scotland in the statutory, voluntary and private sectors, not only in men's health week, but throughout the year.
Will the minister join me in welcoming men's health week, especially as statistics show that, on average, men die five years earlier than women? The gap is wider for men from lower-income backgrounds. How is the Executive addressing men's health issues in the light of that situation?
I am happy to join Richard Baker in welcoming men's health week and congratulate him on bringing the issue to the chamber. I am equally happy to restate the Executive's determination to close the health inequalities gap
Examples of activities during men's health week include a free men's health MOT at Rutherglen primary care centre and the provision by Blantyre health partnership of free diabetes checks at Hamilton racecourse and Asda supermarkets. The Western Isles health promotion department is targeting workplaces, placing information on national health service pay slips and broadcasting men's health discussion topics on Isles FM.
Thank you, Deputy Presiding Officer. I apologise, Presiding Officer—I forget that you have been promoted. I must catch up.
Does the minister agree that one of the best ways of improving men's health in the community is to free general practitioners from the restrictions imposed on them by the Scottish Executive and to leave them to decide how best to deliver men's health?
One of the best ways of improving men's health is for us to sign up fully to a health promotion agenda across Scotland. That agenda must show awareness of a variety of lifestyles and behavioural choices that impact negatively on men's health and on health in general. Irrespective of our political perspective, we should all be determined to bring down the terrible statistics that for far too long have impacted on health in general in Scotland and, more specifically, on men.
Does the minister agree that the issue is not just about lifestyle and behavioural choices, but is linked to the fact that men are far more reluctant than women to approach or consult their GPs? When it comes to the diagnosis of cancer, that can lead to premature death and an inability to treat the cancer in time.
I concur completely with the member's views. There is evidence that men are far more reluctant to present to their GPs and that, when they present, their condition is more advanced than is desirable. A large part of our health promotion and health awareness agenda is about convincing men that there are no macho issues involved and that it is in their interests to present as early as possible. If they do, they will