To: Hon. Annette King, New Zealand Minister
The delay in my writing to you has been caused by the need to set
aside the time to give you a reply which puts a good case to support
my initial reaction to your letter, which was that the New Zealand
Government is carrying out a campaign of gendercide by neglect against
the males of this country. On re-reading your letter after all these
months, I am now able to discern positive elements in it, but my initial
impression that gendercide is involved here still seems to me to be
The prima facie impression of an anti-male orientation is created
by the very first paragraph of your letter to Ross Robertson, where
“I … agree that New Zealand men appear reluctant to
be proactive in the pursuit of good health.”
It is not clear if Ross Robertson gave it the same emphasis that
you did, but to put such a statement at the very start of a reply
on men’s health (whether the writer is male or female) reeks
of excuse-making, and gives the appearance of discriminatory callousness
towards the health needs of men. Correct me if I’m wrong, but
numerous government health awareness and publicity campaigns have
been directed at women, Maoris, Maori women, etc – with absolutely
no indication that there was some prior requirement that (for example)
Maori women showed signs of proactive pursuit of good health ! As
far as I know, however, there have been no such government health
awareness and publicity campaigns directed at men – though I
have noticed occasional items on men’s health on television,
of uncertain origin. In other words, the Government spends taxpayer
money to inform women and Maoris, etc. of their health needs, and
then spends money improving their health. In the case of men’s
health, on the other hand, the Government spends no money informing
men of their health needs, and then actually goes out of its way to
criticise men for not being aware of their health needs ! This is
the same sort of sexist, anti-male double standard that we are used
to seeing in the Justice system.
• According to the New Zealand Life Tables 1995-97, Figure
2.8, there are more male deaths than female deaths in New Zealand
for every age-group under 80 years of age – presumably because
there are relatively few men who live as long as 80 years. That is
an obvious prima facie case for treating men as a target group for
education, prevention and treatment. Men – I must point out
to you – pay more taxes than women do, and deserve a return
on this expenditure.
There is some callous Feminist propaganda around that tries to pretend
that men’s shorter life-span is somehow “natural”.
I refer you, however, to a different view in Vallin, Jacques (1995):
"Can Sex Differentials in Mortality be Explained by Socio-economic
Mortality Differentials ?" in "Adult Mortality in Developed
Nations," edited by A. Lopez, G. Caselle and T. Valkonen (Oxford:
Clarendon Press) ( http://www.soa.org/sections/farm/farm_vallin.html
). It also seems fairly clear to me that (hormones apart) there is
no biological explanation possible for male deaths being greater than
female deaths at every relevant age-group. The difference is probably
caused by man-hating Feminism and female selfishness, on the one hand,
and male chivalry and self-sacrifice, on the other.
Primary Healthcare Strategy
According to an article by Dr. Karen Poutasi, the Director-General
of Health, in the Dominion newspaper of 21.5.2002, about 30% of hospital
admissions for those under 75 are avoidable, and she wants to reduce
hospital costs by getting people to seek primary healthcare so as
to reduce the cost to hospitals. She also says that this type of (i.e.
avoidable) admission is higher for Maoris and Pacific Islanders than
for Pakehas. According to the webpage http://www.moh.govt.nz/moh.nsf/7004be0c19a98f8a4c25692e007bf833/773f92d8d97ead26cc256b6b00785b5e?OpenDocument
one goal of this new strategy is to "identify and remove health
A graph on page 237 of the 1996/97 New Zealand Health Survey shows
that fewer men than women are admitted to public or private hospitals
for all age-groups except the 65-74 age-group, when the proportion
of men admitted to hospital suddenly shoots up from about 12% to about
24%. In addition, page 198 of that document states that “Women
were more likely than men to visit a GP at least once in the previous
year,” and that “Women were also more likely than men
to make frequent visits to a GP.” Taken together, these three
bits of evidence constitute prima facie evidence that men neglect
their own health (while women pamper themselves), until suddenly they
are hit by a health crisis that forces them to be admitted to hospital.
I am sure that you have no way of denying this, because it is clear
that you and your Ministry have little interest in or knowledge about
Men’s Health. Taking this data in conjunction with Dr. Poutasi’s
published comments, it seems clear that men should be a target group
in relation to reducing hospital costs and improving men’s life-span.
Figure 99 of the 1996/97 New Zealand Health Survey shows that men
in the 75+ age-group (unlike younger men) visit GPs about as frequently
as women in that age-group do. This can be interpreted as meaning
that only those men who have developed the habit of visiting their
GP regularly live long enough to reach the age of 75. The Ministry
of Health should sack its sexist, Feminist, anti-male managers and
hire people who are prepared to give men’s health a fair go.
One of your senior Health ministry officials – a woman –
told me on the phone (she refused to commit herself to writing me
an email) that if the statistics showed that there was a need to target
men’s health, men’s health would certainly be targeted.
The graph mentioned above shows that to be a lie. You and your Ministry
neglect men’s health in a callous – not to say ruthless
– manner, and you should be taken to a Human Rights court for
A search for "Women's Health" on the Ministry of Health
website on January 6th 2003 yielded 14 results and a search for "Men's
Health" yielded zero results. Similarly, the 1996/97 New Zealand
Health Survey at http://www.moh.govt.nz/moh.nsf/7004be0c19a98f8a4c25692e007bf833/d7b3cf1eee94fefb4c25677c007ddf96?OpenDocument
cites a 1996 Ministry of Health report called, “Women’s
Health Status in New Zealand”, but there is no reference to
any study on Men’s Health in New Zealand. It is not for nothing
that the logo on the Ministry of Health’s home page features
a woman’s face but no man’s face !
I am pleased that you state:
“There may be areas where men’s health could be
improved through preventative measures and access to medical advice
That seems to indicate that you have not closed the door on further
advances in the area of men’s health.
I also regard as positive the fact that (as you state) the National
Health Committee has contracted the New Zealand Guidelines Group to
undertake another review of the evidence surrounding screening for
prostate cancer, and that the Prostate Awareness and Support Society
(PASS) is participating in that review. That review was due to have
been completed by now, and I will soon see if I can find out what
its conclusions were.
Another positive aspect of your letter is the fact that (as you
state) the Government pays the cost of the Prostate Specific Antigen
(PSA) test, rather than the patient.
According to the page: http://unisci.com/stories/20012/0608015.htm
“Prostate cancer detection is currently based on three diagnostic
tests: serum prostate-specific antigen (PSA), digital rectal examination,
and transrectal ultrasonography.”
Unless there have been recent advances that I don’t know
about, the PSA test by itself produces too many false positive results
and too many false negative to be adequate on its own – which
is why the digital rectal examination is recommended in conjunction
with the PSA test. According to the webpage http://www.vmmc.org/dbProstateCancer/sec39165.htm
, transrectal ultrasonography is used if a GP’s examination
indicates that further investigation is required. That same webpage
indicates that even transrectal ultrasonography does not provide definitive
results, and has to be combined with a needle biopsy.
Although, therefore, it is good that the Government funds the PSA
test in New Zealand, it does not fund a GP’s digital rectal
examination, and I don’t know how long the waiting-lists are
for transrectal ultrasonography and needle biopsies in public hospitals.
So there is an obvious case for the Government to fund digital rectal
examinations as well, and to make sure that transrectal ultrasonography
and needle biopsy waiting-lists are not too long – given that
the Government funds cervical cancer and breast cancer screening programs
for women only (men do get breast cancer, as well as women), and there
seems to be a constant stream of women-only or mainly-women conditions,
such as osteoporosis, waiting in the pipeline for the Government to
throw targeted money at.
In addition, there is the issue of research funding. It is probable
that much more money is thrown at research into women’s diseases
than at research into men’s diseases – both in New Zealand
and world-wide. For example, the webpage: http://www.prostatepointers.org/ww/funding.htm
“Although the breast cancer death rate and that of prostate
cancer are nearly equal, the research funding for breast cancer
is about seven times that for prostate cancer.”
The New Zealand Government has a responsibility to ensure that
just as much funding is directed at research into male-specific conditions
as at research into female-specific conditions.
If the NZEEF ever received an invitation to provide input to your
Primary Healthcare Strategy, I’m sure we would not have seen
it as a priority, because we would not have been aware of the implications.
Men have to educate themselves about Health Issues because (as shown
above) out Government is not interested in informing us about our
health issues. That needs to change.
New Zealand Equality Education Foundation.