Why Men’s Health Month is important
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease. As we celebrate Men’s Health Month, it is important to reflect on the determinant of men’s health and how the health system can be built to support greater well-being for men. Globally, men have been observed to have a shorter life expectancy compared to women. In Kenya, the life expectancy of men at birth is ca. 65 years, while that of women stands at ca. 69 years. And most recently, COVID-19 epidemiological findings indicated higher morbidity and mortality in males than females across different regions in the world. This has resulted in a greater focus on men’s health—more than ever before.
The reasons for poor health outcomes for men
Researchers suggest that the health discrepancies that exist between men and women result from a mix of biological, social and environmental factors. Current health systems focus on how to transform the social determinants of men’s health to not only improve longevity but also the quality of men’s life. Research shows that the social expectations of masculinity directly affect attitudes and behaviours related to a range of health issues, including their perspectives towards what constitutes good health and their healthcare seeking behaviours. This has led to late diagnostic, detection and treatment of illnesses, resulting in poor health outcomes.
Emerging trends and issues in men’s health
The rise of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Kenya, a country which is already burdened by communicable diseases, has presented further complexity in men’s health. Early detection and intervention are key to alleviating NCDs, yet men have been known to visit health facilities late when the diseases are at an advanced stage already. Cancers, cardio-metabolic diseases and mental illnesses are particularly present and require early detection and intervention in order to achieve good outcomes. Despite advancements in screening and diagnostic technologies that continue to increase timely intervention and favourable outcomes, many challenges in accessing novel screening and diagnostic technologies persist, especially in resource-constrained settings.
Improving access to screening and diagnostic services for men
With evidence pointing towards poor healthcare seeking behaviour among men, there is the need to address a range of issues on availability, affordability, timeliness, and quality of care. To fully address these issues, it is important to focus on equipping healthcare providers with low-cost and quality-assured devices that offer timely and accurate results. This, coupled with proper mechanisms that link patients to care and follow-up services, can serve to improve health outcomes and the general well-being of men.
What is Ilara Health doing to contribute to men’s well-being?
Working with a large network of health care providers in Kenya and a range of technology-powered point of care diagnostic devices, Ilara Health is making quality diagnostics available and affordable to enable early detection and intervention. Ilara Health’s focus on cardio-metabolic illnesses contributes to improving health outcomes for men. Diabetes, one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in men, is one of our focus areas. Several innovative devices have been deployed to our growing network of healthcare providers, including the Pixotest Point of Care Testing (POCT) system that offers both HbA1 and Lipid testing through a single, easy to use device, with quick and accurate results.
Guest author: Dr. Matiko Riro