The Western Cape Health Department has urged men to make their health a priority and to frequently visit clinics to curb the spread of diseases.
To end the myth that boys do not cry and raise awareness about men’s health, the department took to the streets of Khayelitsha on Thursday February 23 to encourage men to check and know their health status.
Men tested for diseases such as cancer, tubercolosis and HIV and had their blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels screened.
Different health and non governmental organisations including the ANOVA Health Institute, TB/HIV Care Association and Health4Men supported the initiative.
The department said some men believed only weak people got sick, yet everyone was equally disposed to illnesses.
Departmental spokesperson Sithembiso Magubane said some men believed that seeking health care assistance had a direct impact on their masculinity. He said most men only seek medical assistance once they got sick or injured.
Mr Magubane said: “This is to bring awareness and to allow them space. Men are at times scared to go to clinics. But with this set-up they can easily be tested.”
Mr Magubane said the outdoor initiative followed a series of health programmes by the department during the course of last year.
He said previously, programmes around women’s health and HIV/ Aids brought much success and allowed the department to reach those people who are either reluctant to go to their clinic or whose circumstances prevent them from going to the clinic for a check-up.
Kuyasa resident Themba Wellem said the programme was long overdue. He said there should be more opportunities for men to have their health checked.
“When I heard the announcement over the radio I took it upon myself to tell my friends and encouraged them to be part of this. Before coming here I went to the local shebeen just to tell the guys to come.
“I told them this is our health and the government is trying to help us.
“We really need to get out of shebeens and start realising the importance of our lives,” he said.
Mr Wellem said he was proud to be among the people who came for the health screenings.
Luvuyo Ngxameleni said the day had been helpful to many men who have no time to go to clinics. He said his work kept him busy, so he was happy to see such an initiative in Khayelitsha.
“This is an encouragement to many of us. It is not nice not to know your health status at all. I think we as men should refrain from refusing to be tested. There is always help at our health facilities, but we seem scared to go there.
“We are grateful for this set-up. Remember we are exposed to many illnesses so it is wise to know our health status,” he said.