HEALTH is wealth, but when it comes to men in the UAE, it seems all's not well.
The stakes for good health among men in the UAE are too high and any complacency in this matter can be perilous, says an expert.
In the global scenario, women are 33 per cent more likely than men to visit a doctor in general, although the gap narrows with increasing age, disclosed a recent study.
"The biggest problem that men face is not so much a specific disease," says Dr Nabil Mitry, "but the diseases which are the result of a general lack of health care monitoring and awareness earlier in life. The big picture shows that death rates from specific men's health issues are not falling."
"Men die at higher rates than women among all top 10 causes of death. Any person who is not connected to a doctor to screen for minor or major health problems is at greater risk of disease and death. Studies pointedly show that the UAE men neglect their health," said the region's pioneer specialist on male-specific health issues.
"Men take less time and initiative to take care of their health, seek medical advice or even search for information. The result is that one in three of the UAE men will be already suffering from specific men's health issues, and one in four of them will likely die from it," he warned.
"If a man doesn't get his cholesterol checked when it's going high at the age of 20 years, and if he doesn't get his blood pressure checked when it's going high at 30, may be his blood sugar's getting a little high when he is 40 years, what does he think is going to happen when he's 50 years old?"
Dr Mitry posed the question on the occasion of the launch of the very first platform for the UAE's male population to raise health issues specific to them, get motivated for making potential lifestyle changes, eventually helping themselves prevent a cluster of alarming ailments.
The UAE Men's Health Alliance (MHA), the only national patient organisation of its kind, has been launched on Tuesday in Dubai with a mission of improving awareness of the major health risks pertaining to men.
The MHA plans to reverse the trend and bring the importance of men's health into spotlight. Dr Nabil Mitry is the chairperson of the non-profit group, which aims to educate men to look for the warning signs and have a better understanding of the key health issues affecting their health.
"The agenda is to help improve the overall health and wellbeing of the UAE's male population and raise awareness of the significant health conditions that put their lives in irrecoverable risks," he added.
"The MHA will focus on prevalent health issues ranging from cardiac disorders and diabetes to the often-overlooked conditions such as erectile dysfunction (ED) and physiological issues such as emotional divorce and depression," he elaborated.
"Taboos, embarrassment, stigmas and social pressure often associated with the men's health issues in the UAE should be overcome," observes Dr Mitry. "The MHA, through its awareness and outreach programmes, will provide information and educational resources on men's issues as well as the emotional factors within families due to depression caused by health problems of men."
The ED is a less talked but one of the most common diseases that men suffer in the UAE, which also has the world’s second largest diabetes prevalence and just look at the ratio of depression among the men. These are the problems which we can't be ignored anymore," he remarked.
When asked why the charitable network has been formed, the MHA spokesperson said that it aims to change attitudes, behaviours and lifestyles for the men in the UAE, as to how they view their own health. We will inform them on the best ways to improve their health situation.
Dr Mitry observed that raising awareness on men's health is one of the key challenges for the future. "The MHA wants men to know what the health issues are, what to look for, and how best to treat these issues before they become life-threatening health problems." "Educational campaigns will be conducted in workplaces, malls and other public gathering areas across the UAE, in tandem with the Ministry of Health, local health authorities and healthcare providers. A definitive set of key health messages for the men have been developed."
"Detection and treatment is delivered to all the UAE men in a responsible way," he ensures. "We don't want men anxiously rushing to see their GPs when there may be nothing wrong with them."
"Hopefully, the messages will strike a balance between giving men the information they need to be aware of, but giving accurate and consistent information to the men and their families, not causing unnecessary worries," Dr Mitry added.