The Month of June is Men’s Health Month which is celebrated across the country with health education and outreach activities. With this year’s theme; take action on COVID-19
The purpose of Men’s Health Month is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys.
This month gives health care providers, public policy makers, the media, and individuals an opportunity to encourage men and boys to seek regular medical advice and early treatment for disease and injury.
Always remember a healthy lifestyle is critical to your physical and mental well being. This is the reason why the BLAS Initiative took action on COVID-19 by educating men and sharing palliatives to them.
For the Celebration of Men’s Health Month, Blas Initiative for Health Education took the men’s health education and awareness to the Hospital, Art community, and the Street.
UMEZURUIKE HOSPITAL, OWERRI. Firstly, we visited Umezuruike hospital all dressed with a touch of blue because we dressed to celebrate Men’s Health as it is “Wear Blue Friday”.
On arrival to the hospital, the team leader introduced himself and our team, He stated our mission to the hospital and called upon one of the team members to sensitize the people in the hospital, both male and female were present and they were all lectured on prostate cancer, diabetes, heart diseases, they were educated on the reasons why they should always get a routine health checkup, screenings, body mass index check.
After the lecture, palliative was shared amongst the boys and men in the hospital, alongside with blue cotton face masks, food was also given to them, the male kids were not excluded.
At the hospital, the Medical Director and matron of the hospital appreciated the team’s effort and sensitization by encouraging men to seek medical care always and when necessary most importantly.
ART COMMUNITY SENSITIZATION The team took off from Umezuruike Hospital to the Art Community (Omenka Ndi Imo) at Freedom square, Owerri. The same lecture was given to the male artist at the Art Gallery, they were also advised not to use tobacco and to keep up with healthy living.
At that moment an addict at the gallery denounced his addiction before us and asked us to keep him on watch so he doesn’t relapse, after which the team sat and ate together with them.
Palliatives and face masks were also shared to them. The President of Imo Art Gallery (Omenka Ndi Imo) commended us for the lecture that was given to them, he appreciated the team and promised to always go for checkup. In the same vein, the Secretary applauded the team for a wonderful awareness and sensitization.
The Vote of Thanks was given by the Vice President of the Art Gallery, thereafter we took photos with the artists.
DOUGLAS ROAD SENSITIZATION And after the photo shoot, the BLAS team headed straight to Douglas road, Owerri where food and palliatives were shared to the beggars on the street.
Here we introduced ourselves to the beggars and told them how much we value their health. They appreciated our visit and thanked us for the food and palliative given to them.
IMPACT The team made provision for the following:
100 food packs and three coolers that were shared at the venues.
75 palliative goody bags containing nonfood items (Toiletries, detergents, and soaps), food items (noodles, beverages, biscuits, and drinks)
250 cotton face masks. We reached out to over 200 men with our palliative packs and sensitized over 450 persons during the course of this project.
TESTIMONIES The matron at Umezuruike Hospital appreciated the team for the sensitization of men’s health education.
The men at the wards and General outpatient department where all happy to receive a lecture on Benign Prostate Hyperplasia, Prostate Cancer, Men’s Health, and COVID-19 hygiene promotion alongside the goody bags.
At the Imo art Gallery, an addict denounced his addiction before us and asked us to keep him on watch so he doesn’t relapse.
The President of Imo Art Gallery (Omenka Ndi Imo) commended us for the lecture that was given to them, he appreciated the team and promised to always go for checkup.
In the same vein, the Secretary applauded the team for a wonderful awareness and sensitization. The Vote of Thanks was given by the Vice President of the Art Gallery.
ORGANIZATIONAL LIMITATIONS Although the program was a successful one, it wasn’t easy for the team. We faced Challenges during preparation and execution of this project;
1. we had limited funding from individuals,
2. Lack of support from donor agencies,
3. National Association of Resident Doctors strikes action affected our visit to the Federal Medical Centre and Imo State University Teaching Hospital as we initially planned to visit the two. But the strike reduced the patient load at those centers leaving us with the option to visit the only center with a good number of patient load.
4. We had disappointment from partners.
5. Getting to the street of Douglas it was difficult speaking to the beggars, they had a belief that we were sent by the government to harm them. Which showcases the level of ignorance among them. So at first, they didn’t want to give an audience to us, we were even threatened by the beggars with weapons. Initially, beggars refused to accept the palliative and food we brought to them, but when we spoke calmly to them, they understood who we are and our mission which is to promote their health, they gave us an Avenue to speak to them concerning their health.
APPRAISAL AND SUSTAINABILITY PLANS We plan to keep up with this public advocacy for men to seek medical care. To monitor the changes, this year we noticed that in Imo State, Nigeria 7 out of 10 men both old and young don’t go to the hospital until diseases and injuries worsen.
With our sensitization and health education, more people will change from such a lifestyle. By next year we will visit more hospitals taking stock of the statistics to know the differences in men’s attendance to clinics to seek medical care.
The team through the research department of the organization is carrying out research to know the major reasons why men abscond from clinics and things to do to better such thereby reducing the mortality of men.
To sustain this project, we will seek support from donor agencies and more philanthropists to visit more communities and hospitals.
CONCLUSION The aim of this project was achieved by showing how important men’s health is in society. Encouraging men to take action on COVID-19 and promoting men’s health by giving them palliative and health education.
Visiting communities and hospitals with men of different age brackets enabled us to know the different beliefs and challenges of these people towards accessing health care. With the major problem being lack of Universal Health Coverage and limited Primary Health Care.