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Cutting down on male deaths

Officials pay close attention to the webcast.

Three of the four main causes of deaths among men are preventable.

And the regional representative for the Pan-American Health Organisation, Ernest Pate, is calling for more research into the cultural and behavioural reasons that young men are dying.

Morbidity and mortality rates among young men were startling, Pate told health officials around the world in a webcast for International Men’s Day, that over the years the focus in health has been on maternal and childhood issues, and it has not changed with changing times.

The Caribbean Programme Coordinator said: “When one looks at the current data, where we are seeing most of our morbidity and mortality is in our young men; in fact, in the adolescent and the young age group. If one looks at this area, three out of four causes of morbidity in this age group is due to external causes, and these are homicide, which we are seeing 18.2 per cent of our male population; accidents, which account for 12.1 per cent of our mortality; HIV/AIDS which account for 11.9 per cent and suicide, which account for 10.5 per cent.

“This is a significant problem for our Caribbean countries, but also for many of our Latin American countries, and if you look at these causes, three out of four are preventable; so we have work to do. We also have many interventions that can be applied,” he said.

“In many of our countries, we really do need to do a bit more research in particular on the cultural and behavioural aspects of why young people die,” Pate said, adding that this was necessary if the interventions were to be successful.

Coordinator with PAHO’s Office of Gender, Diversity and Human Rights, Dr. Isabel Noguer, speaking from the Washington office via the live web stream, praised the work that was already being done to promote men’s health especially.

Addressing the topic, The Health Situation of Men in Latin America and the Caribbean, Noguer said to explain mortality rates they had conducted a study looking at status and trends among the 20 to 39-year age group.

“We have analysed mortality among men between 20 and 39 years old for different reasons. First because the demographic distribution reflects a predominant young population in the English-speaking Caribbean countries. Secondly because mortality among young adults is the strongest contribution to increased vulnerability among men; and third, because in the Caribbean high mortality rates among children show a similar pattern between boys and girls; and last because many differences between males and females start just at the beginning of the adolescent stage.”

If they were to face the health challenges therefor she contended that they needed to understand these differences, as mortality patterns among men and women were substantially different.

Figures for the 20 to 39 age group, the manager quoted showed that between 2000 and 2006, there were 13,298 deaths among men, compared to 6,354 among women in the non-Latin Caribbean.

Among men the top four causes were infectious, assaults, accidents and suicides; while among women, infectious, cardiovascular, cancer and suicides were the top four reasons. Suicides among women, the study found, were still significantly lower than men, something to which Noguer said attention needed to be paid. (LB)

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