Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, receiving books on men’s health from Senior Health Sister at the Black Rock Polyclinic and coordinator of the two-day workshop,??Anne Murrell.??

Men in Barbados have been urged to take their health seriously, not just for themselves but for their families.

This call came today from Health Minister Donville Inniss, as he addressed the start of a two-day workshop focusing on "Making a Difference in Men’s Health" at the Pan-American Health, Organisation (PAHO), at Dayrell’s Road. ??

Mr Inniss noted the attitude and behaviour of men worldwide was one where "men were less likely than women to see a doctor, undergo a medical examination, seek help or show signs of distress". ??He said it was a concept probably born out of societal norms which expected men to be brave and strong and suffer in silence.

Explaining that this was "a very serious issue", he drew awareness to the fact that new and re-emerging diseases, such as HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and chronic non-communicable diseases meant the fight had begun "to change the view and mindset on men’s health".

The Health Minister stressed: "Men are no longer seen only as being on the sideline, as the bread winner of the family, or the one going to battle. Men also have been playing varying roles within society, such as husbands, boyfriends, fathers, brothers and friends."

Noting the appropriateness of the theme, Mr. Inniss said: "…Men need to make a difference in health. The majority of our political leaders are men and men are often seen as the ???gatekeepers’ because of the many powerful roles we have in society. Hence, men are in a prime position to influence, motivate, agitate and support the women and effect change within our health care system to ensure positive results for our families."

Nurses at polyclinics were praised for making the issue of men’s health a priority and for "thinking outside the box in respect of finding alternative ways of getting the message out to men". However, the Minister pointed out that there was a need for other creative strategies to encourage more men to communicate health concerns and identify leadership and management styles best suited to these groups.

He suggested that the message of a healthy lifestyle be taken from the classroom environment into rum and barber shops, restaurants and local liming spots, "where men are most likely to be found, especially from the younger age group".

Mr. Inniss added: "This is very important, because too often we attend these functions in usually very sterile environments like our polyclinics and sometimes you may find that you get one particular type of men attending these sessions… but if we are to get the message out there and make some meaningful impact, then we have to start taking it out to places where these men gather."

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