Home African Caribbean Men’s Health Is Just As Important As Women’s Health

Men’s Health Is Just As Important As Women’s Health

by Tony Kelly
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Today I was really struggling with what to write for my fortnightly contribution for the readers of the online  website www.caribdirect.com   Then all of  a sudden, I had a eureka or light bulb moment; so here goes. 

Men’s Health Forum  is a  registered British charity whose mission is to improve the health of men and boys in England, Scotland and Wales. 

It is a well-known fact that most men are like the proverbial saying associated with the ostrich which buries it’s head in the sand at the first sign of danger hoping that the problem will go away but of course it  never does. Most men tend to be in denial when it comes to their health issues and leave seeking help  from the health care professionals when it is too late, preferring  instead to suffer in silence. It is often considered a sign of weakness if they were to let their emotions and inner feelings known and is regarded as not a manly/macho trait.  I am sure most women can vouch for that  situation from their husbands, partners, other male relatives and friends.  We need to  encourage men to change that modus operandi.

My experience is that women at the first sign of any discomfort, pain or  feeling unwell, see their doctor for medical advice. Most men head in the opposite direction to watch sports, play dominoes or other card games and socialize in the pub/bar hoping that the underlying health issues disappear but instead they exacerbate.

On the 23rd July  2023  there was a major  announcement  of a men’s heath inquiry by the House of Commons’ Health and Social Care Committee (HSCC). It is  a huge opportunity  for everyone and every organization that cares about the health of men to become involved. I have to admit that I knew nothing about this worthwhile initiative until Paulette Hamilton the MP for Erdington, Birmingham rang me even though I am not in her constituency and urged me to participate as she whilst being a Birmingham City Councillor  and the then Cabinet Minister for Health was aware of my  community health and well-being work.  I thank her for bringing this inquiry to my attention and have certainly grasped the opportunity and submitted my thoughts which must be a maximum of 3,000 words.  In turn I am therefore using this fortnightly platform to make it more widely known for readers and that includes both men and women to submit their opinions in the call for evidence which is mentioned below.

The closing date for submission is the 8th September so I am urging readers not to procrastinate by leaving  it until the last minute as there remains more than three weeks to get one’s thoughts and experiences together either  as an individual or group to influence policy  with a view to change for the better.

The idea is for the government to adopt a men’s health policy/strategy in the similar way that there is currently a women’s health policy. Two shocking statistics that have emerged are, ‘In the UK one man in five dies before the age of 65 and four in five suicides are by men, with suicide being the biggest cause of death from men under 35.’

Surely if we had health policies and services that better reflected the needs of the whole population, it might not be like that and it is about time that we all started to seriously address and positively do something to get these numbers reduced. The strapline that I use in all of my health awareness presentations and which is emblazoned on my pull-up banner is ‘Our health is our wealth’.

The six areas of interest for this very important health inquiry are in a nutshell:

*Life expectancy

*Cancer including early detection and in particular prostate cancer

*High rates of suicide

*Factors that contribute to the under-use of health services

*Community and sports-based projects

*Health equity across different population groups

This new inquiry is understandably regarded as a hugely positive step forward and we all have a responsibility to let our thoughts, opinions and experiences be known and taken on board.

You might have lost a loved one or know of someone who had a traumatic experience and the treatment received by the healthcare service was exceptional or not as the case may be. This could  trigger a better approach throughout the country more than it sometimes seems for some, like  a postcode lottery depending on where one lives.

Please get involved and submit your evidence by following the guidelines outlined at www.committees.parliament.uk and then search for the link under the health and social care section of the website.

Who knows as you might end up saving  yours or someone’s life or improving their overall outlook? 

Also, joining  the Men’s Health Forum  by visiting the website  www.menshealthforum.org.uk  which I recently did, could end up being the catalyst for change that one might need to kickstart the drive to make a real difference in the lives of all boys and men.  Their women folk would also benefit too.

It is no good us sitting on the sidelines and complaining so this call for evidence is an apt reminder that we need to play our part. As an optimist I believe it could make a long-lasting difference as we should  not just talk the talk but walk the walk since action speaks louder than words. We all need to be part of the solution since we are all in this together.

Kindly also bring this important information  to the attention of others who might not see the article on the www.caribdirect.com  website. Onwards and upwards.

Tony Kelly

Tony Kelly

London born Tony Kelly of Jamaican parents grew up in Jamaica and returned to live in Birmingham in 1979.
He is a graduate of Mico Teachers’ College and taught in Kingston high schools prior to working for 30+ years as a middle manager in central and local government with an emphasis on equity, equality, diversity and inclusion. He has a masters’ degree in socio-legal studies from the university of Birmingham.
For over a decade Tony has volunteered as a diabetes ambassador firstly for Diabetes UK and now for the National Health Service – Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group. A multi-award winner doing a yearly average of 150 health and well-being events, locally, nationally and internationally focusing on type 2 diabetes. He was diagnosed with this medical condition 18 years ago. However with a combination of physical activity and diet he has never taken medication thus proving with the right mindset and discipline it can be achieved.
As a diabetes advocate/activist Tony will continue delivering the message of healthy options to readers of CaribDirect.com .


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