Improving Men’s Health In Canada Is A Doctor Visit Away
Education and Advocacy Discussing a new initiative to encourage men towards better health outcomes, through education and awareness.
As the incoming President of the Canadian Urology Association, it’s with excitement and hope that I write this brief introduction. I am so pleased to be a part of this initiative, an attempt to encourage men toward better health outcomes, through education and awareness of the many health problems that are specific to our gender.
A large part of the problem with men and their health is a lack of awareness, a weak sense of urgency, and — despite increasing media and public attention — very little traction among men to become proactive in changing lifestyles that are dangerous or unhealthy. In 2017, there remains a longevity gap among most Canadian men of four years — compared to women in Canada — due to a lack of awareness on the negative effects of alcohol, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle.
According to Maimonides, “The physician should not treat the disease but the patient who is suffering from it.” While this quotation may be more than 800 years old, it accurately describes our current problem. Few men seek medical advice until they become ill and typically do little or no preventative health activities. Often, when men do seek out a physician, they need acute care to deal with an urgent matter. And, as a consequence, they don’t benefit from preventative and proactive lifestyle-changing advice.
Some of the statistics are quite shocking: two-thirds of Canadian men between 30 and 65 years of age are overweight or obese, one in four smoke, and exercise is a rare event for the majority of these Canadians.
The Canadian Urological Association (CUA) and The Men’s Health Foundation, as well as national, regional, and local medical societies, have recognized these issues and are now ramping up efforts to target men at risk. According to Statistics Canada (2013), accidental injury was the third leading cause of death for men (it was number five for women), with 6,500 deaths (50 percent higher than in women). Cardiovascular disease and cancer are the top two causes of death in men. And, in many cases, earlier diagnosis and more timely treatment may lead to better long-term outcomes.
I commend the partners involved in this initiative for this initiative. The CUA, with its many patient-targeted educational programs, outreach programs for family physicians, and specialists, is a willing and able partner in our combined goals of improving men’s health in Canada. Over the next 12 months, I hope readers will keep their eyes and ears open for programs that will be available in their areas — devoted to improving our understanding of the key factors that can improve men’s health in Canada.