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Balancing the Scales – What Are Men Afraid Of?

Balancing the Scales – What Are Men Afraid Of?
April 13
07:24 2019

By: Dr. Abigail Joseph

Truth be told, men have shorter life expediencies than women. This fact is due to certain biological, behavioral and environmental factors. You might be optimistic and say, “well, sumting haffu kill wi”. But why is it that women outlive men? Could there be a lingering factor that might be able to even the scores? What are women doing that men aren’t?

As in many cases, there are always two sides to a story and in this case it is important to address the fact that women attend health care facilities more often than men. This may be due to the fact that there are established programs set out by health policy makers and health care workers that target women and children (Maternal Child and Health Clinics). Several screening for cervical cancer through pap smear campaigns, the VIA program (vaginal inspection with acetic acid), Antenatal clinics, annual Bilateral tubal ligation campaigns and other contraceptive management and family planning are all reasons why women are invited more often to our facilities throughout the country. Women are also seen more often at health care facilities because they are generally the ones that take children for vaccines and when their children are sick. But despite the fact that there are more screening programs and activities throughout the year, even when there are general health fairs that promote free blood pressure, checkups, glucose checks and free HIV screening – women are more likely to respond with a higher attendance.

While it is clear that we lack sufficient programs to encourage men to come out and it is obvious that there is a gender gap in the health care system – men must be included in the global health equity agenda and this starts at a national level. Heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes are leading causes of death in men. Many of these symptoms are silent, and remain so for years due to lack of early screening. For this reason, emphasis on regular checks should be made. This is particularly important when attempting to tackle the global epidemic of non-communicable diseases. As a country we need to change the status of diseases and push for greater prevention of these non-communicable diseases. But changes can only start if we take the initiative and come in for established checks. (Examples of screenings that men just should not live without are: high cholesterol by age 35, diabetes by age 45 and prostate/colorectal cancer by age 45 and earlier if you have family history).

An interesting fact is that while most people think that men are disinterested in attending clinics or simply don’t like going; men that are retired attend clinics with a greater frequency than young men that are in school and working class men. So the coin has two sides: there is lack of promotion on the part of our health care facilities and government as well as the management of priorities in men with regards to their own health. To be quite frank, something tells me that even if we had established programs, the outcome would be the same – why? Because men will be men. Society has groomed them in such a way that they feel the need to be macho, stoic even. Men oftentimes ignore signs and symptoms and push through the pain or sick feeling with the thought or fear that they may be viewed as “weak.” Apart from being reluctant to go to the doctor, studies also show that when they are in attendance, they are likely to not be completely honest. Men will tell you that it’s often uncomfortable to speak about particular “issues.” Most will tell you they fear the major body exam and infamous finger – “digital rectal examination/ prostate check.” Apart from it being an uncomfortable exam, whether we deny it or not a wide number of our men are still very homophobic and feel uncomfortable with the digital rectal exam. Men are often times observed laughing at the concept at each other having to experience it. Others will scoff and say no one will dare touch their rectum. Men are dying for the cause!! Pride is not a disease but it certainly isn’t helping when it comes to making men live longer.

Realize that your mind is your worst enemy. You are the only one who stops you from actually making it to the doctor’s office. So what if there aren’t as many programs for you as there are for women? You haven’t even tapped into the ones that are provided! Many are of the mentality “weh yuh no know, nuh hurt yuh.” Well in all honestly this mentality contributes to not getting routine tests and missing early detection of the very diseases that are the leading causes of death to your gender. Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men, followed by colorectal cancer and testicular cancer – All of which can be detected early with proper screening. Man up, get tested. Let’s stop this social isolation and start attending our annual checkups for a longer healthier life.

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