WINDHOEK - Majority of men do not prioritise health issues and have misinformation about HIV and health.
Societal norms are not conducive for men to seek help or play a nurturing role for the well-being of families and communities. Men and boys are influenced by many gender norms that affect their health and discourage them from accessing health services. These were the remarks of UNAIDS fast track advisor Patricia Ongpin at the second Male Engagement event of 2019 at Moses Garoeb Constituency office hall on Friday. The event is an initiative of the City of Windhoek Mayor Muesee Kazapua, which dates back as far as 2017.
Ongpin stated that the concept of masculinity and the stereotypes associated with it create conditions that make having safer sex, taking an HIV test, accessing and adhering to treatment or even having conversations about sexuality a challenge for men.
“Unhealthy eating habits and the use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs further exacerbate the situation. We must challenge the notion that the greater strength and independence that many men enjoy give them a license to take more risks,” stated Ongpin. At the same time, she said people must counter the norms of masculinity that encourages homophobia and transphobia.
She said it is critical to talk about the role men have and must play in health and well-being of their families, communities and themselves.
Kazapua launched the male engagement policy paper, a desk review of men’s health in five local authorities. They are Windhoek, Swakopmund, Walvis Bay, Gobabis and Katima Mulilo, which shows increasing rates of urbanisation and higher inpatient deaths among men. Kazapua said this review in the five local authorities identified gaps in male involvement in HIV and Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) services.
The mayor stated that men have for too long been identified as perpetrators of many social ills such as gender-based violence, alcohol and drug abuse. “An event like this gives us an opportunity to change this status quo, as it provides a platform to discuss and address the challenges that we face with regard to uptake and access of health and sexual reproductive health services. Kazapua said the CoW has mainstreamed men engagement in its city level HIV strategic plan and hosted the first men engagement in 2017 in partnership with Ministry of Health and Social Services, the joint United Nations programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) and other stakeholders.
There was also a free on- site health services offered for high blood pressure, Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) and cholesterol. Men also had their glucose level tested, body mass index, HIV test with pre- and post- counselling offered. “I must say unlike in the past where the PSA test was very uncomfortable and with most men prefering not taking the test, technology has advanced now and this test is simply done by drawing blood, therefore I believe that this should alleviate the fear of taking the test, “he
2019-07-22 11:12:12 | 7 months ago