‘Focused Attention’ to be Given to Male Health

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Under Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Development Mr. Michael Turner addressed the Male Health Initiative Conference 2007, on November 29, 2007, at the Activity Centre of the Parish Church of the Most Holy Trinity. Mr. Turner said health officials will bring more focused attention to Male Health. 

By: Matt Maura

NASSAU, The Bahamas –
— Unhealthy lifestyle practices such as excessive alcohol consumption, poor eating habits, cigarette and marijuana smoking and a lack of exercise are all negatively impacting the health of many Bahamian males, Under Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Development Mr. Michael Turner said, November 29, 2007.

Addressing the annual Male Health Initiative Conference, held at the Activity Centre of the Parish Church of the Most Holy Trinity, Mr. Turner said it would appear that the favourite pastime for many Bahamian males is to “frequent the numerous liquor establishments” and face the risk of becoming, in the first instance social drinkers, before graduating onto alcoholism.

“I implore you brothers not to allow any alcohol substance into your bodies that will cook your liver and/or your brain,” Mr. Turner said. “The men of this nation should be aware that their health is their personal responsibility and as such must take responsibility today, to ensure that tomorrow will reflect how seriously they took the challenge.”

Mr. Turner said there have been many factors that have contributed to poor men’s health over the years. He said statistics from the Health Information Research Unit at the Ministry of Health and Social Development revealed that in 2003, the leading causes of death in men of all ages were AIDS, heart disease and prostate cancer, in that order, followed “closely” by trauma due to assaults.

During the same period, almost 65 per cent of deaths in young males between the ages of 15-24 were the result of external causes, such as homicides and injuries sustained in road traffic crashes. In 2005, all deaths of men between the ages of 25-44 were as a result of injuries sustained in road traffic crashes and acts of violence.

“In fact, the Public Hospitals records reflect that the leading causes for admissions among males presenting for treatment as a result of injuries, second only to pregnancy-related illnesses,” Mr. Turner said.

He added that chronic, non-communicable diseases (CNCDs) such as hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer, also continue to be major concerns for men and the general population, accounting for almost 40 per cent of all deaths in the country.

Recognizing the trends and the importance of male health in society, Mr. Turner said, health officials have underscored the need to bring “focused attention” to male health issues.

He said traditionally, the role of men globally has been that of provider, protector and leader, but more recently both medical and social scientists have concluded that in order for men to reach and maximize their highest potential and fulfill their purpose, all of their various needs – including their health needs – must be met.

“When the health needs of men are met, then the environment for increased productivity and positive contribution to the development of a healthier nation is significantly enhanced,” Mr. Turner said.

“To adequately assist you, it is important that forums such as this be consistently sought as we all seek to promote healthy lifestyles, deal with challenges that would negatively impact health and say a resounding ‘No’ to alcohol and drugs. Such actions will ensure that the lives of our men are more enriched and our nation continues to produce responsible, healthy sons, husbands and fathers, thus resulting in significant reductions in healthcare costs,” Mr. Turner added.

Mr. Turner said the Ministry of Health and Social Development would continue to expand male health programmes through the Male Health Initiative, which is a component of the Ministry’s Family Planning and Reproductive Health Programme.

The Male Health Initiative is designed to address male health, social and economic issues, in addition to those issues related to responsible family planning and parenting.

“It was not in the too distant past when the focus of many public health professionals was primarily in the areas of Maternal and Child Health with particular emphasis on healthy babies, pre- and post-natal care and female birth control,” Mr. Turner said.

“However as we move towards a new area in Family Health, we have come to recognize the importance of Male Health and the need to bring focused attention on Male Health related issues,” Under Secretary Turner added.