Sticking with issues affecting men we turn to the health sector. The Belize Family Life is on a campaign to get men to look after their health. The family planning organization is offering health packages for men as the Fathers’ Day weekend approaches. According to Executive Director at the BFLA, Joan Burke-Skeen, many men don’t seem to make their health a priority.
Joan Burke- Skeen, Executive Director, BFLA: “When we look at the promotion of men’s health and simply because we do it from a preventive standpoint and the importance of early screening. So when we talk about the digital prostate examination or what is called the digital rectal examination we recognize that it is very uncomfortable for some men because it’s basically the insertion of a finger up the rectum to basically try and locate the prostate which is kind of a walnut shape gland that produces the fluid that allows the free flowing of the sperm and so therefore that digital or rectal examination is what allows the service provider to ensure that the gland has the shape that it is supposed to have, has the size and all that it should have. It’s a more accurate test but as I said for many men it is extremely uncomfortable some men don’t even want to be engaged in the discussion that anything is being inserted in their rectum and part of it has to do with this whole homophobic society that we live in, some people joke about it.”
Burke-Skeen says that while self-care is up to the individuals there is the need to make the health sector more men-friendly.
Joan Burke- Skeen, Executive Director, BFLA: “I think it’s an individual responsibility. The individual has to take responsibility for his health however there has to be a transformation of the healthcare delivery system here in Belize or throughout the region. We have to make our healthcare system more male friendly and we’ve engaged men at different levels in different conversations and you have some men who prefer to have a female service provider especially for these kinds of services and then we have on the other side some of our female service providers they are not comfortable providing services, these kinds of services to some men. There’s an issue of security for some women and we have some female service providers who they’re partners are not comfortable with the knowledge that you know ‘my wife will be in a clinic room locked up with a man examining a man’s penis or putting up her finger in his rectum.’ So it requires a societal change as to how do we view health and particularly health of our men and boys and so there are a number of changes that we must start working towards. One, working with our males and letting them understand the importance of them taking care of themselves as well as building that level of comfort of service providers and then making the whole healthcare delivery system and the way we engage men in health conversations.”
The BFLA is offering gift certificates for Fathers’ Day. The certificate includes blood test prostate screenings, testicular exam and manual prostate exams.