Barbadian men are being urged to improve their health seeking behaviours and take better care of themselves.
This was the motivation behind the Trim Ya Numbers, Barbershop Project of the Ministry of Health, where health monitoring machines have been installed at three barbershops across the island – Brothers Barbershop, Speightstown; Exclusive Cuts, Warrens and Line and Length located at Sheraton Centre.
During the launch of the project at the Sheraton Centre last Friday, Health Minister, Donville Inniss explained that the initiative was aimed at gaining and distributing health information to men in an environment that they already frequented, and to reach those who would not normally seek health care.
"The stark reality is that some of us men walk around ignoring any subtle signs that something might not be quite right with our bodies, right up to the point where we are close to collapse.?? In fact, some of us do collapse and are taken to the hospital by ambulance to be treated for conditions which could have been easily controlled or corrected if care had been accessed on a timely basis," he emphasised.
Quoting statistics from the 2009/2010 Annual Report of the Barbados Registry, the Health Minister disclosed that men aged 40 to 79 years were suffering strokes at higher rates than women of the same age.?? In addition, men between 45 and 74 years of age were having heart attacks in larger numbers.??
Equally troubling to health officials were reports generated from the HIV/AIDS management programme which indicated that HIV positive men were presenting at a later stage and consequently dying at higher rates than their female counterparts.?? Mental ill health was reportedly also affecting men at disproportionate rates.
The participating barbershops have been equipped with a sphygmomanometer, an automatic blood pressure monitoring machine and a body mass index scale.?? The Health Minister pleaded with men who will visit these shops to take full advantage of the services being offered by the project.?? He, however, cautioned them not to use it as a replacement for an annual medical checkup.
Speaking on behalf of the barber shops, Ricardo Corbin of Brother’s Barber shop, commended the Health Ministry for its pioneering effort.?? "This is one step for the barbering community and one giant step for men’s health in Barbados…If this programme saves one life, it would have been worth being?? implemented," he said.
The project is a first for Barbados, but similar outreach projects in the United States and Europe have reported successful results.????