Seychelles: Men’s health clinic challenges stereotypes

Date: October 23, 2012
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Most men in the Seychelles demonstrate health seeking behavior only when their health status is challenged or compromised. Health protection and health promotion practices are relatively poor. It results in higher morbidity rate for men and lowers their life expectancy.

In August 2011, Alliance of Solidarity for the Family (ASFF) in Seychelles introduced health facilities focusing on men. This is redress the availability of health services that are women friendly and not attractive enough for men to use, thus creating a gender bias.

The project is in line with the provisions of the SADC Gender Protocol on Gender and Development, Article 26 on Health. This requires member states to “adopt and implement legislative frameworks, policies, programmes and services to enhance gender sensitive, appropriate and affordable health care”, particularly addressing the mental, sexual and reproductive health needs of women and men.

The initiative has three main components, including health talks targeting men in the work place, a men’s wellness clinic and a specialised men’s clinic. Most of these services are nurse led except for the latter which is offered by a specialist medical officer. The services are well accepted by the community and well used. The Ministry of Health facilitates the service by providing laboratory and pharmaceutical services.

Culturally men do not use health facilities effectively. Men tend to be less healthy conscious as evidenced by the health statistics. Average life expectancy for a male at birth was recorded in 2010 as 73.2 (68.9 years and 77.5 years for males and females respectively), a difference of almost nine years between male and female. Of the six deaths due to self harm in 2011, four were males and one female. Of the cumulative total of 502 HIV infections, 290 were males and 212 females. Of the new 42 HIV infections recorded in 2011, 25 were males and 17 females. Of the 136 patients currently living with AIDS, 83 are males and 53 females. The above picture illustrates that there is a gender inequality in regard to access to health services.

The project recognises the importance of men having better access to health services, and the need to reach out to men with education that enables them to participate in their own health. The project also provides an entry point to address the culture of violence founded in the belief that abusing the partner physically or psychologically is acceptable and legal. The project is a collaboration with the Ministry of Health.

The main beneficiaries of the project are men on working sites, who would otherwise be unlikely to approach a district health centre unless they were ill. Alcohol abuse and gender based violence tends to be common amongst this group.

The Alliance of Solidarity for the Family (ASFF) identified a gap in the provision of specific health services for men and decided to fill the gap. ASFF strongly believes that scaling up access to health services through provision of men’s health services will go a long way towards addressing men’s general health, sexual and reproductive health needs.

The clinic is an entry point for information and education on contraception. Over 1000 condoms have been distributed at the clinic. It also provides education about gender based violence, with ‘Behaviour Change Communication’ leaflets aimed at redressing gender based violence and improving sexual health being distributed. So men are accessing sexual and reproductive health services in a “male friendly environment”.

However, there are challenges, as the project doesn’t reach men who are not in an insitutionalised working site. Fishermen, stevedores, and farm workers, for instance, are unreachable. Other health needs of men in Seychelles also need to be addressed, and this will be considered in another project.

As the service is well used and appreciated by the men, it will continue. Partnering with Ministry of Health is also an effective way to ensure sustainability. A Memorandum of Understanding with Ministry of Health is a must to ensure sustainability, and this is in the development phase.



One thought on “Seychelles: Men’s health clinic challenges stereotypes”

Eugene says:

Hi, in issues of men health clinic, it is always adviceable to propagate health education,mostly at the rural communities so that awerness will be every where.

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