November 20, 2012

SVG placing focus on male health and well-being

Tue, Nov 20, 2012

St Vincent and the Grenadines this year joined a growing list of countries observing International Men’s Day (IMD).

It may be asked, given male dominance in the world, why do men need a day set aside for them; don’t they have more than enough rights and privileges?{{more}}

Why, after more than three decades of local commemoration of International Women’s Day, why do we, here in St Vincent and the Grenadines, need to recognize IMD, and what is its focus?

Many persons may not know that observance of IMD began right here in the Caribbean. Dr Jerome Teelucksingh, a lecturer at the St Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies, is credited with starting the Day. Today, more than 60 countries worldwide, ours among them, have joined in the IMD commemoration. The focus is to highlight gender-specific issues of male health and well-being.

Despite what some may believe, the reality is that there is need for specific attention to be paid to men’s health and well-being. It is not by chance that life expectancy among women worldwide is higher than among their male counterparts. Men are mostly to blame for this, given their lifestyles, their propensity for violence, including war, and their general neglect of health issues. The World Health Organisation (WHO) for instance, points out that 83 per cent of the deaths from violence in the world are men and boys. Men traditionally consume more alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs than women, which is reflected in proportionately higher numbers of deaths from lung cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, heart diseases and drug-related suicides. More men tend to die in motor vehicle accidents as well.

For all these and a host of other factors affecting male health and well-being, including educational advancement of young boys, IMD attempts to use the occasion to highlight these issues with a view to having them redressed. The aims include: (a) improving life expectancy among males; (b) improving the educational standards of boys; (c) promoting more positive male role models and (d) helping men to help themselves.

These are aims worthy of support. IMD may yet be in its infancy, but we should do all we can to promote the noble objectives and to facilitate men and women working in harmony to make a better world for us all.