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On April 8th The British Medical Journal published an article that begun "The year 2006 should not be allowed to pass without at least a quiet celebration that this is the first year in human history when - across almost all the world - women can expect to enjoy a longer life expectancy than men."
Well, whoop-de-dooh. Men die sooner than women.
What's so great about that? I'm sure it's an excellent thing that the maternal mortality rate nearly everywhere in the world has fallen, but for doctors to pat themselves on the back because women last longer than men is despicable.
Worse than that, it indicates a serious social injustice. For years our society has concentrated on women's health issues to the detriment of men, and has devoted more resources to them. Well-woman clinics are commonplace, there is screening for breast-cancer, Mrs.GOS gets regular letters asking her to come for a smear to see if she's got cervical cancer.
And what's available for the GOS himself? Bugger-all, that's what. He has never been invited to go for any kind of medical test whatsoever. He has never had his blood-pressure taken. He did have a chest X-ray once, but no-one's ever looked to see what his cholesterol levels are like, or if his arteries are hardening, or offered to stick a finger up his bum to look for whatever they look up your bum for. So far as the medical profession is concerned, he might as well not exist.
But he'll fool them all yet. He's far too grumpy to just give in and die quietly, though I'm sure that would be something else for the BMJ to celebrate. Pickled in tobacco and alcohol and well-steeped in vats of bad temper, he'll outlast the lot of them, you wait and see.
But will anyone be pleased about it? Don't think so.


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