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Doc: Early death higher among men

The number of men who die at an early age here outnumber the women, partly because, unlike women, the male population avoids regular medical checks, a senior health official has said.

While not providing statistics, Acting Medical Officer at the Maurice Byer Polyclinic in Station Hill, St Peter, Dr Omar Edwards listed a number of causes of premature mortality among Barbadian men, including injuries, accidents and non-communicable diseases.

Speaking this morning at a seminar at the offices of Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) on Dayrelles Road, Christ Church to promote men’s health, Dr Edwards said that on a whole women are better at taking care of their health than men. And he called on the male population to emulate their women.

Dr Omar Edwards

Dr Omar Edwards

“In the Ministry of Health we also recognize that there is poor health seeking behaviour among men compared to women. We recognize too that premature mortality is higher among men than women; and when we speak of this we are talking about injuries, trauma, accidents, non-communicable diseases, and we are talking about HIV/ AIDS as well. We want to encourage men to present themselves to doctors early and take advantage of screening. Women would take advantage of screening, but men would not. When the diagnosis comes it is usually too late for men. We do not want to lose some of our productive population because of this,” the health official said.

Meanwhile, PAHO and World Health Organization (WHO) representative in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Dr Godfrey Xuereb echoed Dr Edwards’ view, saying that there’s a higher rate of early detection among women.

Expressing concern at the reluctance of men to have screenings done the PAHO/WHO official contended that the lives of men of “our productive age groups” can be saved by early detection of curable diseases.

“We are losing our productive age groups to diseases which can be arrested if diagnosed at an early stage. This is undermining our development and gains since independence,” Dr Xuereb said.

Over 60 participants drawn from men’s health education groups from across the island participated in the seminar. Dr Edwards argued that there was a link between these groups and “good health” among men.

The men’s health groups started as a pilot project at the Maurice Byer Polyclinic in 1999 and have now expanded to all polyclinics. These groups meet in evening sessions with invited speakers who not only address health issues, but legal and social ones as well. According to Dr Edwards, the Maurice Byer Polyclinic has the largest group with as many as 40 persons attending the sessions, while other groups such as the Brandford Taitt Polyclinic attract around 30 persons.

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