As the annual Movember campaign kicks off, City Health’s assessment of men’s health and associated interventions indicates that more can still be done by all concerned. Read more below:
The City of Cape Town’s Traffic Service staff members cut a close shave in support of men’s health today by participating in the second Movember shave-in event, which was held at the Gallows Hill Driving Licence Testing Centre.
Movember is an annual event involving the growing of moustaches during the month of November to raise awareness about men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and suicide among men.
‘As a provider of primary health services, the City is acutely aware of the challenges in getting men to open up about their health and seek appropriate care, including making use of City clinics. For example, statistics show that men lag far behind women in accessing services like HIV testing and treatment, but that there is a better turnout at non-clinic sites, so this is certainly something that we need to interrogate and exploit if it means better access,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security; and Social Services, Alderman JP Smith.
Public sector HIV testing data over the last number of years shows that for Cape Town overall, men form a lower proportion than women of all those testing.
The City has, in the last decade, introduced a number of interventions designed to cater specifically to the health needs of the male population, with the opening of the first male clinic in Site C, Khayelitsha in 2007. Since then, similar sites have been opened in Gugulethu and Bellville, with two more in Khayelitsha.
The clinics offer primary healthcare services, education on safe sex, sexually transmitted infection diagnosis and treatment, and HIV testing and counselling. Anti-retroviral (ARV) initiation or referral to ARV sites and for medical male circumcision are also available. With initiation season in the offing, the City further encourages initiates to visit their nearest general clinic to check for and treat any sexually transmitted infections before undergoing traditional circumcision.
More recently, in line with the Organisational Development and Transformation Plan, City Health introduced a package of care tailored for older persons, including health checks for a range of conditions. It is envisaged that this package will include screening for prostate cancer and other male health risks in the future.
‘We live in a society where the “cowboys don’t cry” mind-set continues to feature prominently. There are also cultural sensitivities that make conventional clinics no-go areas for many men. That is why we have started investing in men’s clinics and we also do a number of community outreach programmes to bridge that gap.
‘Collectively, we need to do more. I appeal to men to consider how their attitude towards their own health is affecting them, their families, and possibly their communities. We need to change the narrative and move away from the perception that men’s health is limited to condom distribution and usage,’ added Alderman Smith.