Barbados will risk turning back much of the development that has taken place since Independence if it continues to lose significant numbers of its productive age group to non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

This warning came from Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) Representative for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Dr. Godfrey Xuereb, as he addressed a leadership seminar for men at PAHO???s headquarters on Wednesday.

Dr. Xuereb told the men who were drawn from men???s health groups, male-oriented organisations and communities around the island that they needed to be more proactive about their health.??He said the health issues facing men and women in Barbados were very similar, since NCDs such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and most cancers were not gender specific.

The difference, he said, was that the rate of early detection was much higher for women, largely because men tended to ignore early warning signals and prevention advice.

???This behaviour by men exists across the board and has nothing to do with socio-economic class or education. It seems to be something in the Y gene that makes us ignore the signals,??? the health professional stated.

He urged the men to create discussion platforms to talk about things like prostate cancer, diabetes, and hypertension and to share this information regularly, and before they experienced problems, since often, by the time problems were recognized, it was too late.

He told those involved in men???s health groups that they must lead by example, promoting lifestyles such as not drinking alcohol and driving, so that having a designated driver became part of the psyche, and dealing with the problem of weight gain, before it shifted from being overweight to obesity.

Dr. Xuereb also stressed that the men needed to be role models for their male children. ???We see boys being very active up to about age six and then as soon as they get into preparing for the Common Entrance Exam, physical activity drops to nothing because parents are pushing them to concentrate on Maths and English. But it has been scientifically proven that children who are physically active are better students and are able to concentrate better in class,??? he said.

The seminar, which was sponsored by the Ministry of Health, had as its theme Building Men for Successful Leadership Roles in Barbados.

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