Statistics have shown that Barbadian men are becoming increasingly vulnerable to illness and death in their middle years.
This, according to Acting Senior Medical Officer of Health with responsibility for Chronic Diseases, Dr. Leslie Rollock, "has implications for national productivity, as the middle ages are the peak years for consolidating in all spheres of life, for the development of managerial potential and for the passing on of vital skills to the members of younger generations".
Dr. Rollock made these comments during the second launch in the series of barbershop screening programmes, which recently took place at Brothers Barbershop, Speightstown.
She concluded that "this phenomenon of men’s poor health may be to some extent explained by physiological differences which favour females during their pre-menopausal years." She also listed mental illness, complicated by alcohol and illegal drug abuse, and accidental injuries as other health conditions which could affect men.
In highlighting the benefits of the health-monitoring machines which have been installed at three barbershops across the island, Dr. Rollock noted that "traditionally males have been slow to access preventive or early detection health care services." She pointed out that this might be due to the myth that the man could be seen as vulnerable or weak, or because of his fear of discovering a problem. She also expressed the view that clinics were set up primarily for women and children.
"The barbershop screening intervention seeks to provide a convenient place, accessible by men who, while they improve their appearance, can also find that blood pressure checks, weight measurement and educational materials are within reach and be able to improve their health," the Acting Senior Medical Officer stated.
She further appealed to all men who would visit the participating barbershops to utilise the machines, but asserted that it was not intended to be a substitute for the necessary annual checkups.