The Guard

The Truth On Board

Men encouraged to lead in health care

By Libuseng Nyaka

QWAQWA – In response to men being significantly less likely than women to see a doctor or report symptoms to a health care provider, the department of health has created a men dialogue at in a free-of-judgement environment.

During this dialogue which was held on Friday at the Showtell church in Namahadi men were educated about importance of taking a lead in their health care and their families’ and were also encouraged to open up about challenges they faced.
Some of the men who attended the dialogue said their reluctance to visit health care centres is prompted by the poor treatment they received at clinics especially when treated by young female nurses.

“It is very frustrating to be treated by a young female nurse, who makes you undress and leaves while her colleagues will be coming in one by one just to see you naked. That is very frustrating and disrespectful. Such things really discourage us from accessing health care centres,” one of the men said.

But Free State Health MEC Mathabo Leeto felt that it was men’s responsibility to take care of their health and not preoccupy themselves with the age of health professionals attending to them, as their life comes first.

She however did not condone some of the behaviour of health practitioners.
“We are here to encourage men to seek medical attention and not feel intimidated by the age of doctors. We must not look at the age of the doctors, but consider their knowledge and what is good for our health.
“The key word here is respect; a doctor must treat his/her patient with respect but, I repeat, age is not a factor in this matter,” Leeto said.

According to the director of male and sexual reproductive medicine and assistant professor of urology Helen Bernie, despite the statistics showing that only 60 percent of men go to the doctor for a year, sometimes for a routine checkup, 40 percent won’t go until something is seriously wrong.”

“Twenty percent of men report seeing a doctor so their significant other or beloved one will stop nagging them. It is important to encourage the man in your life to see a doctor; you can make an impact.”

Free State Health MEC Mathabo Leeto addressing men at Showtell church in Qwaqwa.

For the Cape Town Gin & Spirits Company, a premium local gin brand, it is clear that serious intervention is needed.
The founders of the brand acknowledge that there is a stigma surrounding men talking openly about their health, whether it is physically or mentally, that needs to be addressed and changed.

“Man up. Be a man. Suck it up. These phrases teach us from a young age that you are weak for showing vulnerability and the only acceptable behaviour for boys is to swallow whatever you are feeling,” says Craig van der Venter, founder and managing director of Cape Town Gin & Spirits Company.

“When they grow up, they become men who think that asking for help means they aren’t real ‘men’, which is how we find ourselves where we are now.”

“We wanted to partner with an organisation that works not only on educating the public but also creating an environment that is free of judgement so that we can be open about challenges faced by men, especially in South Africa,” van der Venter explained.