Hello dear Ottawa!

Christmas is on the door steps and New Year is around the corner. A month of indulgence and festive frolic it is! Perhaps a good reason to be more cautious about our health. In this feature WINGD exclusively focuses on men’s health, and inspects “men’s perspective of men’s personal care and health”.

An immediate and obvious question that can arise into our readers’ mind; “Why a man’s perspective?”. Author John Gray lays the base for this in Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus. As popularly discussed is our innate distinct physiological and psychological differences at large, the implications of these nuances are often ignored! Health being one of them. Last three decades have seen a significant increase in the aspects of health consciousness. From eating healthy food to maintaining perfect physique, we have revolutionized it all! Vendors have flooded the market with health goodies. However, there is a large disparity between health consciousness of the Venus inhabitants and the Martians (borrowing Gray’s eponym).

The cover picture above is indicative of this disparity. While women are  attributed to be the “talkative” lot, the silence of men is startling when it comes to discussing health issues. This silence is the arch enemy of awareness in men regarding health issues, some of them being very morbid. As natural it is for a woman to “know” about breast cancer, it is equally surprising  for a man to acknowledge that breast cancer can occur in men too! There are others in the list. MedlinePlus provides an informative list on health issues plaguing men. A plethora of organizations (profit/non-profit), campaigns (on-line/off-internet), and funded research focus on women’s health, the same can not be said to be true for men. The numbers are scarce.

Perhaps the only organization that has gained a considerable momentum in supporting the propaganda of men’s health is Movember Foundation (listed in world’s top 100 NGOs by the Global Journal -2012) . Since it’s inception in 2004 (and an interesting beginning in 1999), Movember’s agenda has been “to change the face of men’s health”. Every year, for the month of November, fellow participants or “MoBros” sport a moustache/beard through out the month and accumulate donations. The funds ($ 37 million in 2013 by Movember Canada) raised during the drive are dedicated to research and health support systems for prostate cancer, depression, testicular cancer and other ailments in men. Movember encourages men towards annual health check up, keeping informed about family health history, adopt healthier lifestyle and most importantly to come forward and discuss their health issues. The crux of the matter is how far has this awareness grown?

"Together we can make a difference"
“Together we can make a difference”

Pray what is better than knowing the information first hand from a fellow MoBro? A spirited rendezvous with Mr. Iype P. Joseph, helped WINGD put things into a clear perspective. A dedicated MoBro for the past 3 years, Iype credits his initiation into this cause; to his home-stay hosts, who volunteer for the cause as well. Speaking for himself, Iype admits that prior to joining the cause, he was hesitant in discussing such issues but now likes to call himself a vigilant fellow.  Stressing on the note that fund raising alone is not enough, he feels that the need of the hour for men is to be more comfortable in talking about intrinsic health issues, doubts and fears and breaking their “silence”.  Iype feels it is important and imperative for men to seek medical help at the earliest if need arises and strongly advices against “waiting for the alarm to set off attitude” or “waiting for things to get better by their own accord”. Iype looks forward to being a MoBro for years to come and asks men to come forward and join the initiative if they have not done so already! He urges that “not able to grow a beard or moustache” should not be a reason to stay back and it doesn’t matter as Movember is open to both men and women for their support and contribution. WINGD captures Iype’s enthusiasm and his Movember 2014 moustache as he poses for a portrait.

Do men wait until a certain age to start thinking about health? Does entering into manhood automatically educates the boys ? Having traversed across different ethnicity and cultural background in the past 3 years, Iype thinks that answers to these questions are deeply influenced by the social framework, and health awareness in men across the world is NOT at par. He candidly tells that usually as a boy, it is your mother who worries about your health, then your girlfriend and then your wife as you become to be a man. Although women’s support is unquestionably important, a secondary concern towards one’s own health will not prevent unprecedented death due to cancer or for that matter depression. If secondary health concern is your thing, then situation is pretty bleak if your better half happens to be a man too! Tracing down to numbers, Iype says not more than 10% of men in his acquaintances (work and personal) are involved in programs such as Movember, which is a very small number of men! Therefore, as far as growth of awareness is concerned there is still a long journey ahead. Parents, talk to your kids and educate them, friends talk to each other, let health be the most important agenda on your tables. Do not wait for that golden number in your age or wait for a secondary concern. Make your health your own primary focus.

Iype places an unequivocal faith in collective pursuit of proactive health awareness in men and nails it by saying “together we can make a difference”. On a lighter note, when asked if he thinks women appreciate men sporting beard and moustache more, a playful smile spreads across his face. Iype categorizes this as a million dollar question and jokingly says that he is still trying to figure it out. One has to agree, moustache or no moustache people will always appreciate kind hearted men!

Folks, time to end the thread, hope this article brings forward all the men in the town in a collective health vigil. Let’s embrace a healthier New Year in unison!