Why do men regard illness with a mixture of denial and fatalism? Some men are overwhelmingly ‘negative’ about their health. This is due to what they consider as, “Big boys don’t fall sick’. The mentality is also propped by the traditional belief that men have always endured and lived for ages without falling sick.
Unlike women who will confess all their sicknesses some men consider HIV/Aids and cancer the only killer diseases. Perhaps, that is why it was scientifically proventhat women outlive men by an average of an extra five years.
It appears that men feel they must wait until they are on their death bed, to admit that they are actually seriously sick and need treatment. Otherwise, they will battle on ‘stoically’ through pain with pride. It takes an aggressive wife to force him to the hospital.
While Rwandans are certainly more interested in healthy living now, the health prevention message is only really starting to trickle through. Men will try and walk off a chest pain rather than seek medical services.
And when he takes the courtesy to visit the doctor, it is usually only to secure a sick certificate which they need for work. This is because they fear that illness could damage their job prospects and promotional opportunities.
Traditionally, women encounter treatment often, because they take more interest in their health. And usually take their kids, too, to the hospitals for a good healthy living.
Also, it’s apparent that women seem to have a better relationship with doctors, than men, and they are generally open about their physical condition. Pregnancies and births, also brings them into intense contact with doctors and health services.
It is a matter of great concern that men view sickness as a weakness. In truth, the ability to see signs of illness early and take action is a sign of courage and an approach to be admired.
For certain reasons, they tend to be more considered about their work, than their health, little knowing that poor health can destroy their career.
Doctors should ensure that their offices are friendly places for men too. For a couple of reasons, some men associate health centres as places where women go.
They may derive this mindset from the many posters which adorn hospitals concerning breast cancer, cervical screening and child vaccination. In this case, work also needs to be done to bring the issue of men’s health into the workplace.
The good news is that as men get older, they do visit doctors more often. But of course, by that time it may be a little late for interventions.
Health affects everyone. Men, too, need the full support and encouragement from health experts in this new battle to address their failings and failure in the services. By ignoring illness, men put themselves at a serious risk of death.
A man’s pride influences his decision as to whether to admit his weakness, or not. After all, they claim that, its women, children and old people who need medical services.
Recently, a certain friend of mine confessed that he narrowly escaped death, after he had suffered from cerebral malaria. He was forced by his wife to go to the hospital, which he had previously rejected to do.