Some of our male friends, family members or work colleagues may start to look a little less well-groomed than usual, this being the fifth day of Movember.
But not to worry. The progressively growing facial hair is all for a good cause: to raise awareness about and to tackle men’s health issues.
Currently, men in South Africa have a life expectancy that is seven years shorter than that of women.
“Men are facing a health crisis that isn’t being talked about. We have to make a stand and stop men dying too young, before their time,” says Garron Gsell, chief executive and founder of the Men’s Foundation, which manages the Movember campaign in South Africa under license from the Global Movember Foundation.
In SA, prostate cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in men, while male suicide accounts for approximately 18 deaths a day.
“We have a long way to go until no man dies of these diseases. Our sons, partners, fathers, brothers and friends are facing these challenges and we need your help,” says Gsell.
The City of Cape Town’s health department joins the call for men to prioritise their health and seek help earlier rather than later. Mayco member for community services and health, Zahid Badroodien says historically men account for the smallest percentage of clients to public healthcare facilities.
“The reasons are many and complicated, but key among them is a widely held perception that seeking help is somehow a sign of weakness,” says Badroodien.
“City Health and its partners have done a lot of good work to overcome these barriers to entry, and it is starting to show in the statistical indicators.”
The interventions include the piloting of male-only clinics and an increase in education and awareness efforts in general.
The number of men testing and receiving treatment for sexually transmitted illnesses (STIs) has seen an encouraging increase over the past two years, from an average of just over 1 000 cases a month in July 2017, to an average of nearly 2 500 cases a month in May 2019.
However, Badroodien cautions that men’s health is not sexual health alone.
“There are also many non-communicable disease challenges that we face as a city, and as a country, like hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and mental health,” he says.
City health offers free blood pressure and blood glucose screening at all of its facilities, along with tuberculosis screening and treatment, and HIV counselling, testing and treatment (HCT).
“My challenge to men this Movember and beyond is to reach out to their nearest public health facility and use the testing and treatment options available,” says Badroodien.
Male clinics include:
. Site B Men’s Clinic, corner of Bunga and Sulani Drive, Site B, Khayelitsha;
. Site C Men’s Clinic, Site C taxi rank, Khayelitsha;
. Gugulethu Men’s Clinic, corner of NY1 and NY3, Gugulethu;
. Men’s Health satellite clinic, Bellville Station (currently closed for renovations); and
. Kuyasa Men’s Clinic, Walter Sisulu Street, Khayelitsha (operated by Western Cape Health Department).
V Visit www.za.movember.com to sign up and find out more about the Men’s Foundation’s Movember campaign.
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