This week is International Men’s Health Week, beginning on 15 June and ending on 21 June in conjunction with Father’s Day.

Families around the world will be honouring the father figures in their lives on Sunday 21 June,  where Dads (hopefully) will take it easy and receive gifts and adulation. But for the Dads who have everything, why not treat him to a gift card from Mandarin Oriental, Doha!

But what about the other men we know and love – grandads, sons, brothers, uncles, nephews, husbands, partners, friends? Given the current situation, we need to be more vigilant about our own and our loved ones’ physical and mental health.

International Men's Health Week 2020Men’s Health Week first started in 1994, to bring awareness of health problems and the importance of early detection of illnesses and diseases. This became the International Men’s Health Week (IMHW) in 2002 after six men’s health organisations met at the 2nd World Congress on Men’s Health, organised by the Men’s Health Network.

In 2005, the Vienna Declaration was signed, to improve the quality of men’s health. The five main points are:

  • Recognising men’s health is a critical issue, with health issues which only affect men
  • Promoting awareness of men’s approach to health
  • Adapting how healthcare is provided so that it is more sensitive towards men’s needs
  • Creating school and community programmes which target boys and young men
  • Uniting health and social policies to better achieve men’s health goals

International Men's Health Week

Slowly and surely IMHW has been gaining traction. Although mainly observed in Europe, the US, Canada and Australia, there have been collaborations with men’s health programmes in Central and South America, Africa, and Asia. Hamad Medical Corporation and the Primary Health Care Corporation have shown support, holding forums and symposia over the last four years.

Those taking part in IMHW often wear a blue ribbon as part of the awareness campaign for prostate cancer. However, there are other major health concerns that are also addressed, such as diabetes, heart disease, stress, accidents at the workplace, and family life, as well as suicide risk and mental health issues, which men are traditionally more likely to suffer from.

As the observance has grown, so has the way we can be involved. The Friday of IMHW has officially become the Wear BLUE Day. It’s easy to do: wear something blue, even if it’s just the blue ribbon, use the social media hashtag #ShowUsYourBlue, and show your support for the importance of raising awareness of men’s health issues.

Previous IMHW campaigns have covered healthy living, beating stress, having a ‘hazardous waist’, diabetes, and the numbers men need to know about their health.

The theme for Men’s Health Week 2020 is Take Action on COVID-19. The aim is to prevent the virus from spreading and causing more damage.

Men can:

  • Act to avoid spreading the virus
  • Do what they can to get the best out of lockdown and the ‘new normal’
  • Take action to beat ‘underlying conditions’

Employers can:

  • Learn more about the virus
  • Take positive action on social distancing
  • Make the workplace safe

Government can:

  • Take action to protect everyone by recognising, researching and publishing how the virus affects different groups of people in different ways
  • Track, trace, isolate and support, with support tailored to different needs
  • Support organisations working with men

What we can all do is encourage the men we know and love to live longer and more healthily!

One man in five dies before the age of 65. TOGETHER we can change that.

– Men’s Health Forum

Visit these websites for more information:

The UK – www.menshealthforum.org.uk/mhw has free material to download; you can also sign up for the newsletter and register for the Men’s Health Chat webinar on Friday 19 June at 7 pm (Doha time).

The US – www.menshealthmonth.org/week.html and www.menshealthnetwork.org

Australia – www.menshealthweek.org.au

Canada – menshealthfoundation.ca/campaigns/menshealthweek


Author: Sarah Palmer

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