An American ex-pat creates Mexico’s first-ever public forum addressing men’s health

LatinaLista – A 2009 study on how well men take care of their health found that the more macho the man, the less likely he was to seek out preventative health-care services. According to the study:

Men with a strong sense of masculinity are about 50% less likely than their not-so-macho peers to seek out preventative health-care services, according to a survey of 1,000 middle-aged American men.

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That this study was indicative of men’s attitudes in the United States, one can only imagine how men in a country known for its machismo culture would fare in taking care of their health.

For example, Mexico.

Renown for its machismo culture, it wasn’t a big surprise to John Rozzo, executive director of Milk Mexico, a Mexico City-based non-profit that focuses on men’s sexual health issues, when he discovered the average Mexican man was just as likely as his US counterpart to not take care of his health. Yet, he didn’t realize just how dire the situation was for Mexican men.

“Milk was fortunate to have four interns last fall,” Rozzo wrote Latina Lista in an email. “One of their projects was to conduct a survey. At four different sites in Mexico City, over the course of a week, they collected over 300 forms. The results were conclusive: most men at every age aren’t informed, don’t get checkups, and those that do go get inadequate attention from health professionals.”

An American ex-pat who has lived in Mexico City for 16 years, Rozzo was appalled at the survey results and knew something needed to be done — and he did it.

From June 13-19, 2011, Mexico City will be the site for the first ever pubic conference devoted to men’s health held in the country, and possibly throughout Latin America. An initiative of Milk Mexico, the week-long event, known by its acronym SISMO for Semana Internacional de Salud Masculina (International Masculine Health Week), will bring together health professionals, experts in various health specialties (mental health, cancer, gender, sexuality), government policy makers and the public for programming that will address four critical areas Rozzo and his team have identified as risks preventing Mexican men from taking care of their health.

Rozzo calls the risks the “4 Cs.” They stand for consciencia — access to factual information; cuidado — showing men how to take steps for prevention, as well as, wellness; capacitación — provide training to healthcare professionals; and cultura — address cultural norms that tolerate/accept unhealthy behaviors and negative health outcomes.

“We want to start conversations and generate actions that challenge the status quo,” Rozzo wrote. “The status quo is completely unacceptable. Just a look at statistics across the board for — obesity, nutrition, HIV, lung cancer, violence – they are all very alarming. Yet no one is facing the circumstances and coming up with a response. We want to change this.”

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