Changing the face of men’s health

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Doha: While the world celebrates Women’s Day with great pomp and celebrations, International Men’s Day passes off a little quietly. International Men’s Day is marked globally to create positive change for men’s health by increasing awareness and educating men and coincide with November, the month formally marked as men’s health awareness month.

Every year, International Men’s Day is commemorated on November 19 worldwide to shine a spotlight on men who are making a positive difference and to raise awareness of issues that men face on a global scale. The date also coincides with the birthday of the father of Dr Jerome Teelucksingh, a doctor from Trinidad and Tobago who relaunched International Men’s Day in 1999.

Despite the existence of the global event over the past two decades, there are many who don’t realise that the day exists.

The theme of 2019’s International Men’s Day was ‘Making a Difference for Men and Boys’, and focused on promoting the need to value men and boys and help people make practical improvements in men and boy’s health and well-being.

International Men’s Day happen together with ‘Movember’, which involves men growing their facial hair in an effort to promote conversations about men’s mental health, suicide prevention, prostate cancer and testicular cancer.

Did you know that growing a moustache throughout the month of November is simply a means to grow awareness and start a conversation about men’s health, a topic rarely discussed.

Movember is actually the contraction of ‘moustache’ and ‘November’. During the month of November, men around the world are invited to let their moustaches grow in order to start the discussion and mobilize to address the diseases that really affect the lives and health of men.

Organized by the Movember Foundation, the purpose of this annual event goes beyond conversation. It is also a fundraising campaign to fund research, projects and programs related to topics such as prostate cancer or testicular cancer, men’s mental health, and suicide prevention. Movember Foundation is operating in 21 countries, mainly in Europe.

According to reports, the reason for the poor state of men’s health are numerous and complex and include: Lack of awareness and understanding of the health issues men face; Men not openly discussing their health and how they’re feeling; Reluctance to take action when men don’t feel physically or mentally well; Men engaging in risky activities that threaten their health; Stigmas surrounding mental health; Men are 24 percent less likely than women to have visited a doctor in a year.

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With suicide being the biggest killer of men under the age of 45, according to many research reports, International Men’s Day also encourages people to have open conversations about topics such as men’s mental health and male suicide is essential.

The Movember campaign has inspired over five million men to grow moustaches each November since 2003. In that time, those men have raised funds for hundreds of programs to tackle the issue of prostate cancer.

Qatar has taken several steps to reduce the prevalence and impact of men’s health issues. The activities and initiatives are held at a national level and throughout the year.

In support of reducing prostate cancer, Qatar’s public health providers and their partners joined hands in March to raise awareness of all types of cancers including prostate cancer to make Qatar a cancer-free society. They aim to educate people about the importance of early detection and the treatment options available in Qatar to reduce and ultimately eliminate this disease.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men. However, when caught early and treated, survival rates can be increased as it can often be prevented with regular screening tests called serum prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and follow-up care.

Prostate cancer occurs when abnormal cells within the prostate grow in an uncontrolled way. Only men have a prostate gland which is usually the size and shape of a walnut and grows bigger as men get older. It sits underneath the bladder.

According to statistics released by the Qatar National Cancer Registry from the Ministry of Public Health, there were 96 newly diagnosed cases of malignant prostate cancer in 2015, 14 (15%) of which were Qatari and 82 (85%) were non-Qataris.

The three-year survival rate from 2013-2015 was 81.8 percent, which was relatively high and reflects the improved therapies and the high-quality diagnostic and treatment services provided to cancer patients in Qatar.

Dr Khalid Al Rumaihi, head of Urology and chair of Uro-oncology Multi-Disciplinary Team at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), said: “In line with its vision to provide the safest, most effective and most compassionate care for each and every one of its patients, HMC is committed to providing highly effective treatment and advanced cancer services to reduce the number of deaths attributed to all types of cancer, including prostate cancer.

“By utilizing the highest quality medical equipment and treatment administered under the care of highly trained and experienced staff and by working together in collaboration with our healthcare partners, we can help reduce the rise in new cases and reverse trends in prostate cancer related mortality. This will help ensure that fewer people suffer from this disease.”

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Catherine Gillespie, National Cancer Programme Director at Ministry of Public Health, said: “As with many cancers, prostate cancer is most effectively treated when it is diagnosed at an early stage. Our aim is to work in partnership to raise awareness of the early signs and symptoms of the disease and encourage those who are concerned to visit their healthcare practitioner.”

In 2017, officials from HMC Urology Department organized the first Men’s Health Club Meeting. The Men’s Health Club was established to provide a platform to discuss the latest scientific and research developments related to men’s health.

The group aims to bring public attention to the importance of men’s health conditions while also educating medical professionals about the latest research related to conditions that affect men’s health, both physical and psychological, from puberty to old age. The group meets every three months and attended by 90 physicians from the private and public sector specializing in urology, nephrology, endocrinology, diabetes, cardiology, and community medicine.

Also, HMC has held two symposiums dedicated to exploring issues relating to men’s health since 2016.

The events offered an opportunity for healthcare workers to gain an in depth look at the most recent advances in the field of men’s health.

Delegates attending the symposium came from a wide spectrum of medical professions, including, urology, endocrinology and diabetes, cardiology, dermatology, primary health physicians, psychiatry and community medicine.

The symposiums provided a platform to discuss the latest scientific and research developments related to men’s health.

Topics of discussion included the health effects of low testosterone, with much of the conversation focused on five research papers that detailed the relationship between low testosterone and other health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, infertility, and varicose veins.

The link between obesity and low testosterone levels was also examined, with attendees discussing common symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options.

Dr Khalid Al Rumaihi, who was also the President of the first forum on men’s health, said that “the aim of this forum was to emphasize that men’s health means helping them enjoy integrated health physically and mentally from their adulthood until old age”.

(The Peninsula)