Fellow citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis, the day that we honour men is here again. Today is International Men’s Day. We know that, like women and girls, men and boys play a significant role in contributing to our society which is why it is important that we take time to applaud their achievements and address issues that commonly affect them. This year, the theme for International Men’s Day is “Better Health for Men and Boys” where we take a deeper look into the physical and mental health of men and boys around the world. This theme comes at a time when all of our health has been put at risk due to the Coronavirus Disease. The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis continues to encourage all men and boys to take a special interest in their own health because according to Jim Rohn, “Your body is the only place you have to live”.
International Men’s Day was first observed in Trinidad and Tobago on the 19th of November, 1999. It was believed that men should be globally recognized like their female counterpart whose day, International Women’s Day, was first observed 22 years earlier in 1977. The day was designated as a time when society thanks men for their contributions and a time when health issues are brought to the forefront. Unfortunately, not all countries celebrate this day, but I am pleased to say that St. Kitts and Nevis, is one of the 70 plus countries who acknowledge this day because of men’s vital importance in our Federation’s overall development.
So, what are some of the health issues that affect men? According to research, these include heart disease, diabetes, lung cancer, prostate cancer, hypertension, kidney stones, stroke and depression. On the other hand, health issues among boys include those that occur due to lack of vaccination and those that relate to oral hygiene. The belief that men are less likely than women to visit the doctor regularly and take action to better their health, is a fairly common one. I am therefore again pleading to all men and boys to consider the way in which they are currently treating their mind and body and to make a serious effort to change the ways that pose a threat to their lives.
The frequent alcohol consumption, smoking, unhealthy eating, inactive lifestyle along with irregular doctor visits must stop if we are to make a serious change. Fortunately for us, we have an array of remedies available including fresh local products and fitness services that are on the rise. Services like Crossfit organized by Mr. Delwayne Delaney, Get Fit Quick by Mr. Adolphus Jones, and Soca Fitness by Mr. Yanos Bagnall are all fitness services formed by young men who are determined to make our society live an active and healthy lifestyle. I am also encouraging men and boys to engage in other active ways that reduce stress including talking to someone if you become overwhelmed by life’s troubles.
At the Ministry of Social Development, individuals who are unable to adequately provide for themselves and their family can receive help through the food voucher programme and those who are unfortunately battling a disease can receive medical assistance for up to $13,000 XCD. Anyone can also visit the Counselling Unit to seek professional clinical advice from our qualified counsellors. All of these options show that help is readily available but us men and boys must truly understand the severity of the issue and be willing to act right now. I also urge women and girls to continue to encourage the men and boys around them to take action, because, in the end, their health will ultimately affect them too.
Before I close, I would like to thank everyone who has made it a priority to improve the physical and mental health of all individuals. I would also like to congratulate the men and boys who are already paving the way by living a healthy and active lifestyle. We have made some progress, but we still have more to go. With that said, I will leave you with a quote by the late Edward Stanley which states “Those who think they have no time for healthy eating will sooner or later have to find time for illness”. Let us prevent this from happening, let us pursue better health for us men and boys.
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