Gender in health is often taken to mean women's issues. To respond to gender inequities in health, men's health status and behaviour must be recognized as resulting as much from the social construction of gender as women's. One must also recognize that improving women’s health and achieving gender equity require assessing and involving men in key areas such as sexual and reproductive health, maternal health, child and adolescent health and gender-based violence.
The dramatic decline in male life expectancy in several eastern European countries shows how men's health can suffer from socioeconomic causes and cultural changes. Violence, unsafe sexual contact, smoking, alcohol and drug consumption, and higher suicide rates contribute to premature death among men. Gender heavily influences these risk factors and the health sector is not considering it fully when designing policies and programmes.
Following up on the global gender strategy approved in May 2007, WHO/Europe is committed to addressing the impact of gender on men's health and involving men in achieving gender equity in the WHO European Region through WHO programmes or direct support to Member States.