While men’s mental health and suicide prevention have become even more relevant in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, getting that rectal exam plus related blood tests done every year is absolutely necessary. Staff Writer GOSEGO MOTSUMI reports
In past years, Movember was on the unshaven lips of every man who strove to turn their facial hair into a full movement that creates awareness on men’s health issues. More than facial hair that involves the growth of a moustache during November annually, the deeper message of the Movember movement sheds light on topics such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and men’s suicide.
“Movember is a diminutive word for moustache, “mo” and “November,” and comes up during the month of November to raise awareness of men’s health issues such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer and men’s suicide,” said Matlagoman Gare from Cancer Association of Botswana (CAB).
Each year, CAB highlights the importance of the movement, its mandate being to reduce the impact of cancers on all affected in Botswana by increasing awareness and education to promote healthy lifestyles. They also strive for early detection of cancer through health promotion programmes, facilitating access to medical care and providing counselling and support to those affected and infected.
“We realise that a healthy workforce brings about a healthy and productive nation, hence we advocate for a preventative health model that includes screening, management and healthy eating,” Gare explained
She noted that prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men and emphasized that most men are nevertheless “notorious” for shying away from medical care, resulting in the condition being picked up late and limiting the impact of treatment and the chances of long-term survival.
Prostate cancer occurs in the prostate (small walnut shaped) gland in men that produces the seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm. Symptoms of Prostate Cancer include an increasing need to pass urine, straining while passing urine, and a feeling that the bladder has not fully emptied.
“Men need to remember that the prostate grows as one ages,” Gare said. “Changes in urinary habits are to be reported. A nutritional and low-fat diet is important. Getting a rectal exam done every year plus related blood tests is necessary.”
Because of COVID-19, commemoration of the movement has been taken online where the Movember official website encourages men to grow and groom a moustache for use as a conversation starter to talk about men’s health issues, hopefully raising money while at it.
Meanwhile, figures released earlier this year by Movember as part of a global study carried out by the Social Research Centre found that nearly half of the men surveyed (42%) said no one asked how they were coping during the COVID-19 pandemic, 21% said their mental health had worsened in the first six weeks of the pandemic, while 27% noted increased feelings of loneliness.