Men urged to take charge of health

National 3 minutes, 27 seconds


MEN in Brunei Darussalam contribute enormously to society through their roles in families, communities, religious life, and workplaces.

Thankfully, many men in the country enjoy good health. However, as our understanding of the interactions between gender and health increases, it is clear that many areas of men’s health require more attention.

This is why, in common with other countries and initiatives across the world, in November, we take the opportunity to raise awareness on issues pertaining to men’s health in order to equip individuals and families to take concrete measures to improve their own health and well-being.

Although men fare well on many economic indicators, such as employment progression, in health however, they face poorer outcomes than women across a wide range of key indicators.

Areas of concern include lower life expectancy and higher levels of avoidable mortality.

Men are dying too young. Male life expectancy is 76 years, three years shorter than that of females.

Below the age of 70 years, the probability of dying is 40% for men compared to 34% for women. It is clear that men of all ages are disproportionately affected by preventable causes of illness and death, and this may in fact worsen in the future.

While biological factors do play a role in the different health outcomes between men and women so too do societal and environmental factors. Tobacco use, which is strongly linked to heart disease, lung disease and nearly all forms of cancers account for a large part of this difference.

Nearly 36% of adult males in Brunei currently smoke, compared to just 4% of adult females. Further, more than a quarter of all Brunei men are clinically obese, and men are nearly twice as likely than women to be severely obese.

From 2004 up till 2015, 961 men were diagnosed with the 3 most common types of cancers to affect males — colorectal, lung and prostate cancer. And yet, despite their health profile, men are generally acknowledged to be reluctant users of the health services and are continuing to present too late in the course of an illness.

This needs to change. Many of the factors which result in poorer health for men are entirely preventable.

By adopting healthy lifestyles and seeking treatment early, men in Brunei will be able to support themselves, their wives and their families to live long, healthy, fulfilling lives. In Brunei, men are customarily seen as the head of the family.

This November, we want to encourage all men to assume their full responsibility as head of the family by ensuring that they and their families practice three healthy behaviours.

Eat and drink wisely by adopting a diet high in fruits and vegetables, low in sugar and processed carbohydrates.

Exercise regularly at least 30 minutes, five times a week,

Stop smoking if this is a behaviour that is currently practiced.

For us, in the Ministry of Health, we will endeavour to support this initiative as it correlates significantly with our three strategic priorities — to inculcate health is everyone’s business, to deliver excellent services through alignment and consolidation, and to prevent and control non-communicable diseases.

Men’s health promotion is about enabling and empowering men to take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing.

Our healthcare services will work in partnership with men to ensure that we provide access to a high quality and effective service in early diagnosis and treatment for men.

Men’s health promotion is not just about the effect it has on men. The healthy behaviours that arise from this should affect their wives, parents, children and grandchildren, friends, colleagues and social networks.

It is about developing a healthy population. With this in mind, this Sunday, November 6, the Ministry of Health will take advantage of the Bandarku Ceria car-free Sunday initiative by embarking on a bike ride around our capital city and beyond.

The aim of this is to raise awareness of men’s health issues specifically, and health in general. We encourage you to join us, and collectively we can make our small contribution towards a healthier Brunei Darussalam. - Message by Minister of Health Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Zulkarnain Hj Hanafi

The Brunei Times