Men’s reluctance to visit primary healthcare facilities was raised as a major concern during a Men’s Health Awareness Month campaign at the Mulbarton taxi rank, southern Johannesburg, in the City of Johannesburg’s Region F, recently.
The taxi rank services suburbs such as Mulbarton and Glenanda as well as The Glen Shopping Mall and surrounding areas.
Men’s Health Awareness encourages men and boys to seek regular medical advice and early treatment to disease and injury. In South Africa, men on average die five years earlier than their women counterparts.
They also have higher death rates in nine out of the 10 leading causes of death, including heart diseases, cancer and stroke.
Spearheaded by the region’s Health Department, the campaign was mainly aimed at taxi drivers. It addressed a wide range of issues, from fatherhood to the importance of complying with City by-laws.
Other stakeholders that participated in the event included the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD), Johannesburg Emergency Management Services (EMS), Sonke Gender and Justice Network and US-AID.
The region’s Health Department conducted free diabetes and cholesterol tests and screenings, as well as HIV testing and counselling.
Officials said the decision to visit the taxi rank was motivated by the fact that taxi drivers usually did not have enough time to visit clinics as they were always on the road.
Nonhlanhla Magwaza, Region F’s Health Promotions Operations Manager, said the City was concerned that men were shying away from visiting clinics.
“We want to encourage you to come to our healthcare facilities. You must know that around here we have Glenanda Clinic in Ward 23. On the other side we have Kibler Park Clinic in Ward 24. Instead of you sitting in your vehicles when you are not transporting commuters, please feel free to visit our clinics,” Magwaza said.
“When you come to our facilities, we will welcome you with open arms. You can even explain to nurses that you are taxi drivers and are in a hurry.”
Ward 23 Councillor Sarah Wissler said taxi drivers and operators must understand the importance of regular health check-ups. “Taxi drivers are an integral part of what happens around here. They are people who bring workers to our ward. We have to ensure they see that we care,” she said.