A wise man knows his health status
November is Prostate and Testicular Awareness Month and on 19 November International Men’s Day is commemorated.
Western Cape Government Health offers a wide range of health services for men, including mental health support, checking and management for blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol, STI & HIV testing and treatment and medical male circumcision.
Mongezi Mlenzana, a physiotherapist working at Site B Community Health Centre, says that men must look after their health and seek healthcare when they feel unwell. “As men, we need to look after ourselves and our health. We do know that our cars regularly need to be serviced, but so do our bodies. Cleanliness is very important and also physical exercise to keep fit. Seek medical help when you feel unwell, your life may depend on it,” says the 57-year-old Mongezi Mlenzana. “Be honest with yourself and face any health issues like the man that you are. Men should trust our healthcare professionals because they are experts in dealing with health matters, even for men,” adds Mlenzana.
Men are encouraged to visit a health facility as soon as they experience pain, discomfort or bleeding, or if they find a lump anywhere on their body. The health facilities also provide services for men’s sexual health. It is advisable to go for HIV and TB screening every year. It is also essential to go for an HIV test if you have never had one before, if you have changed your sex partner since your last test, if you had unprotected sex, if you and your partner want to have a baby, if you have TB, if you are on treatment for STI’s, or if you have more than one sex partner at the same time.
Our health facilities also provide medical male circumcision. Medical male circumcision (MMC) is the complete removal of the foreskin of the penis which reduces the man’s chance of getting the virus that causes AIDS. Using a condom correctly each and every time you have sex can also reduce a man’s chance of contracting HIV. If you had unprotected sex and suspect you may have a sexually transmitted disease, please seek healthcare immediately. Signs that you may have a sexually transmitted disease include pain or burning when urinating, a need to urinate more frequently, pain during ejaculation, abnormal discharge, bumps, blisters, or sores on the penis or genitals.
“International Men’s Health Day aims at creating awareness on preventable health issues and encourage men to take care of their health and well-being. It is important for men to man up and take charge of their health by making wise, healthy decisions. A wise man knows his health status, know your status. Get tested for HIV/Aids, TB, blood pressure, and diabetes. It’s quite critical that men adhere to their TB and HIV treatment plans, as well as chronic treatment,” says Western Cape Minister of Health, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo.
To raise awareness on all health issues affecting men, Minister Mbombo visited the Wynberg Taxi Rank on Wednesday, 18 November 2020, to talk to men about TB, prostate cancer, HIV, blood pressure, cholesterol, and mental health. Her message encouraged men to take responsibility for their health: Man up and prioritise your health.
Men older than 40 years who are not on chronic treatment, you should have your blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol checked every year. These screenings help to pick up any potential problems before symptoms appear. Your health worker will then work with you to keep you healthy. If something is picked up early, then it is usually easier to deal with it before it becomes a big problem. Prevention is always better than cure. These tests are free from the local clinic. If you are already on chronic treatment, it is important to stick to your treatment plan and continue to take your medication. “We understand that people sometimes default from taking their medication due to treatment fatigue, disengaged due to covid-19, work duties, travelling, stigma, non-disclosure or any other reasons. We request them to come to the health facilities so we can help them get back on their treatment. We welcome them and offer support through individual adherence counselling. We are very sympathetic and are aware that people need motivation to continue with lifelong treatment, says Sister Xolelwa Mancoba, Professional Nurse at Michael Mapongwana Community Day Centre.
“Men should not be too proud to admit they need medical help,” says Simnikiwe Moses, a 28-year-old man from Makhaza. “We need to take time for our health. I recently experienced health issues myself and was assisted at Mfuleni Community Health Centre. I received very good service and advice about my health and wellbeing.”
Simnikiwe says that he drinks lots of water, plays sports, tries to eat as healthy as possible and avoids substance abuse. “I also go for regular check-ups and watch my weight. I’ve learnt that following a healthy lifestyle can help to reduce my risk of getting diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease,” adds Simnikiwe.
Western Cape Government encourages men to take up healthy habits, such as exercising. Be mindful that smoking cigarettes, pipes and hookah pipes are harmful to your health. If you choose to drink alcohol, limit your intake to two drinks per week to reduce your risk of getting heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure.
You can also protect yourself and your family from COVID-19. “There are three key things you must avoid – crowed spaces, close contact with other people where you cannot maintain a 1.5 m distance, and confined and enclosed spaces where there is poor ventilation,” says Minister Mbombo. She also urges men to stay safe and move forward by “wearing a clean cloth mask, washing their hands often, keeping a 1.5 m distance whenever out in public, keeping the windows open, sanitise surfaces regularly, and to stay home and call 080 928 4102 if they feel sick”.