An Open Letter to Minister of Health and Family Welfare, India.

Dear Shri Jagat Prakash Nadda,

I am writing as a responsible citizen of India, who cares about the health, well-being and safety of men, women and children.

As you may be aware, 19 November is International Men’s Day, and it is being celebrated in over 80 countries in the world this year with the theme “Make a difference for men and boys”.

On this occasion, I would like to specifically draw your attention towards the health and well-being of men and boys.

It is important to remember that everyday, men make many sacrifices to protect and provide for their families, and thereby make many positive contributions to the community, society, family, marriage, child care and the environment.

  • These men include sanitation workers, construction workers, chemical and gas factory workers, mechanics and miners who routinely suffer from chronic occupational health issues and often die before they reach the age of 60.
  • They include soldiers, firefighters, land mine removers, deep sea fishermen, electric linemen, house painters and glass cleaners who risk their lives everyday.
  • They include farmers, weavers, tea sellers, drivers, paperboys, mailmen and watchmen, who render their services, often without receiving a word of recognition or gratitude.
  • They include teachers, doctors, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and public servants, who help improve the quality of life for everyone in the society.
  • They include fathers, grandfathers, brothers, husbands, friends and colleagues who stand by us, inspire us, make us laugh and enrich our lives.
  • They include men in all walks of life who live honest, decent lives and help keep the wheels of progress and hope turning.

However, men’s health, both physical and emotional, is one of the areas which is seriously neglected in India. Even the most recent National Health and Family Survey of 2015, only addresses maternal health and child health, while examining the key indicators of health and family welfare. It refers to men only in the context of family planning and as to how they can contribute to the health and welfare of women and children.

In India, a lot of health problems in men remain poorly diagnosed or left undiagnosed. Male-specific health problems also tend to be more fatal. For example, as against 5.37 lakh women, only 4.77 lakh men were diagnosed with cancer in India in 2012.  In the same year, 3.26 lakh women and 3.56 lakh men, i.e. 30,000 more men compared to women, died of cancer (Ref 2).

A recent study (Ref 1) reports that the incidence of prostate cancer among Indian males is “constantly and rapidly increasing in all the most recent Population Based Cancer Registries (PBCRs)”, and “the cancer projection data shows that the number of cases will become doubled by 2020.” The study also states that “Given the current age-specific incidence, morbidity, and mortality rates of prostate cancer, this disease will become a far greater public health problem in the future”.

While the top five cancers that claim men’s lives in general are lip/oral cavity, lung, stomach, colorectum and the pharynx (Ref 2), this recent study (Ref 1) shows that prostate is “the second leading site of cancer among males in large Indian cities like Delhi, Kolkatta, Pune and Thiruvananthapuram, the third leading site of cancer in cities like Bangalore and Mumbai and it is among the top ten leading sites of cancers in the rest of the population based cancer registries (PBCRs) of India”.

Male-specific health issues are often blamed on negligence of men themselves. No effort is made by the Government on spreading awareness about or for preventing and controlling male-specific illnesses, diseases and disorders. As a citizen, a voter and a taxpayer of this country, I believe that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare must

  1. acknowledge the place and the value of men in the family.
  2. include men’s health in the National Health and Family Survey of India.
  3. spend time and resources to spread awareness about stress and depression, male specific cancers, heart disease and neurodegenerative diseases which are responsible for reduced quality of life and premature mortality among men.
  4. allocate resources to support research on male-specific disorders, diseases and illnesses – both physical and psychological, and to help find affordable remedies and cures for the same.

On the occasion of International Men’s Day (19 November), I request you to focus your attention on the above issues , and help make a difference for men and boys.

Thank you,

Uma Challa
Author, Hyderabad

References:

  1. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214540014000486
  2. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/7-lakh-Indians-died-of-cancer-last-year-WHO/articleshow/27317742.cms

 

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IMD Press Release – India – 2015

Press Release

International Men’s Day – India – 2015

THEME: MAKE A DIFFERENCE FOR MEN AND BOYS

Veeraiah stands atop an electric pole fixing power lines while thousands of people call the electricity department asking when the power supply would be restored.

Rajanna, an emaciated old man, ploughs the field where crops are grown to satisfy the hunger of men, women and children in far off places.

Mallesh, a spirited young lad, rarely gets his head out from underneath the chassis of an automobile, while everyone busily zooms around town in their sleek cars.

Suresh misses his family reunion and goes on rounds in the hospital wearing scrubs, to ensure that his patients are recovering well.

There are countless number of such invisible heroes who make positive contributions to the community, society, family, marriage, child care and the environment every day.

These men include sanitation workers, construction workers, chemical and gas factory workers, mechanics and miners; soldiers, firefighters, land mine removers, deep sea fishermen, electric linemen, house painters and glass cleaners; farmers, weavers, tea sellers, drivers, paperboys, mailmen and watchmen; teachers, doctors, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and public servants; fathers, sons, grandfathers, brothers, husbands, friends and colleagues.

Everywhere in the world, performing the most difficult, exhausting and dangerous jobs is more of a necessity than a choice for men. Everywhere in the world, most men dedicate themselves to protecting and providing for their families at the expense of their own health, wellness and safety. Young boys are also taught and expected to grow up to be men who will follow the same path.

Sadly, the present day society and media tend to idolize and honor just a handful of stars and celebrities, while ignoring the contributions of the majority of men. They also demonize all men and everything masculine, without realizing the negative impact that it can have on men, women, children, and the society as a whole.

International Men’s Day (IMD) is a day to

  • remember all the good things about men and boys around us.
  • acknowledge and celebrate the invisible heroes of everyday.
  • honor men for all their positive contributions to the world.
  • pray for the health, well-being and safety of men and boys.
  • to ask for fairness towards men and boys in all walks of life.
  • join hands to end misandry and to restore respect for masculinity.

IMD is also a day to examine the various issues faced by men and boys and to discover ways to address them. It is a day to sensitize the society to work towards making a difference for men and boys. This year True Equity Network (TEN) India and All India Men’s Welfare Association (AIMWA) will be focusing on two important issues, namely, health and education of men and boys.

Health:

Men’s health, both physical and emotional, is one of the areas which is seriously neglected in India. Even the most recent National Health and Family Survey of 2015, only addresses maternal health and child health, while examining the key indicators of health and family welfare. It mentions men only in the context of family planning and as to how they can contribute to the health and welfare of women and children.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare must acknowledge the place and the value of men in the family. The country and the society must spend time and resources to spread awareness about stress and depression, male specific cancers, heart disease and neurodegenerative diseases which are responsible for reduced quality of life and premature mortality among men. The Government must allocate resources to conduct research and to find affordable remedies and cures for male-specific disorders, diseases and illnesses.

On the occasion of IMD, TEN – India and AIMWA will be conducting a “Movember March” which is meant to specifically draw attention towards the health and well-being of men and boys. We will be writing to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare about the need to include men’s health, well-being and safety in their agenda.

Education:

Education of boys is another area that needs immediate attention. Boys falling behind in education has become a global trend.

In India, the situation is often touted as girls being “more willing to learn” or being “capable of outdoing boys” in academic performance. While a lot of encouragement and incentives are provided to send girls to school and to keep them from dropping out, no such efforts are made to keep boys in school. Recently, the female Chief Minister of a certain State even demeaned boys at a school function by referring to them as “rejected maal”. Such discrimination has a severe demoralizing effect on boys, leading to underperformance in academics and dropping out of school.

Social scientists and educationists have also observed that since boys are expected to support the family, the need to earn taking precedence over the desire to learn, especially during times of crisis, is another major factor forcing boys to drop out of school and migrate to find jobs.

On the occasion of IMD, TEN – India and AIMWA will be writing to the Ministry of Human Resources Development asking it to correct this imbalance and to take measures to encourage and support boys to complete their schooling.

As Late Dr. K Anji Reddy, Founder of Dr. Reddy’s Foundation said,

“The highest patriotism and philanthropy consists in helping and stimulating men and women to elevate and improve themselves by their own free and independent individual action.”

This IMD, we ask everyone to help and stimulate, encourage and support men and boys to stay healthy and to realize their true potential.

Let us join hands and make a difference for men and boys!

IMD poster India 3.1

Make a difference for men and boys!

Make a difference for men and boys!

imd-logo-4

The 19th of November is being celebrated the world over as International Men’s Day (IMD) since the year 1999. Every year, the number of countries celebrating IMD keeps growing, and this year, the number has reached 80.

Although this is the 9th year that India is celebrating Men’s Day, questions as to whether or not such a celebration is needed and if men really deserve a special day still linger in the minds of many. The answers to these questions were spelled out long before the questions even arose.

President Abraham Lincoln once said, “Any nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure.”

Along similar lines, President John F. Kennedy said, “A Nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces, but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers…”.

While we see a handful of men constantly being idolized as heroes, and many film stars and sports stars being felicitated by the society, there are countless number of invisible heroes who make positive contributions to the community, society, family, marriage, child care and the environment.

  • These men include sanitation workers, construction workers, chemical and gas factory workers, mechanics and miners who routinely suffer from chronic occupational health issues and often die before they reach the age of 60.
  • They include soldiers, firefighters, land mine removers, deep sea fishermen, electric linemen, house painters and glass cleaners who risk their lives everyday.
  • They include farmers, weavers, tea sellers, drivers, paperboys, mailmen and watchmen, who render their services, often without receiving a word of recognition or gratitude.
  • They include teachers, doctors, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and public servants, who help improve the quality of life for everyone in the society.
  • They include fathers, grandfathers, brothers, husbands, friends and colleagues who stand by us, inspire us, make us laugh and enrich our lives.
  • They include men in all walks of life who live honest, decent lives and help keep the wheels of progress and hope turning.

It is often forgotten that everywhere in the world, men perform a variety of tasks, including some of the most difficult and daunting jobs, to protect and provide for their families. It is often forgotten that doing these jobs is more of a necessity than a choice for men. The goodness and selflessness of these men is often taken for granted.

As the former President of India, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, rightly said, “When surrounded by day to day issues, there is a tendency to forget the good things we are bestowed with.”

IMD poster India 4.1

This International Men’s Day let us remember all the good things about men and boys around us. Let us acknowledge and celebrate the invisible heroes of everyday. Let us honor them for all their positive contributions to the world. Let us pray for their health, well-being and safety. Let us vow to ensure fairness towards men and boys in all walks of life. Let us join hands to end misandry and to restore respect for masculinity.

Let us all work to “make a difference for men and boys”!

Here’s wishing all men and boys a very happy International Men’s Day!

– Uma Challa

International Men’s Day – Radio Talk show

Radio Talk Show on International Men’s Day 
TEN-India partners with Bol Hyderabad Community Radio 90.4 FM in the celebration of IMD 2015.
Broadcast dates: 3 Nov 2015 18:30 hrs IST
Speakers: Uma Challa, Aravind and Partha TR
Languages: Telugu and English

Listen here:

http://yourlisten.com/BolHyd90.4/international-mens-daychalla-umaboltrue-equity-network

Men’s Day Posters – India

International Men’s Day Poster – India – 1  (PDF file – 33 MB)

(Click on the above link to download a printable A3 size poster – pdf file)

Making a difference for men and boys

Photo credit: Minal Adkar Veturi. Pune. India

International Men’s Day Poster – India – 2 (PDF file – 2.5 MB)

(Click on the above link to download a printable A3 size poster – pdf file)

Photo credit: Minal Adkar Veturi. Pune. India

Photo credit: Minal Adkar Veturi. Pune. India