Talking men’s health with the fathers



On the second Sunday of June, the world over celebrates Fathers’ Day. Although this commemoration is more popular globally due to this designated commercialisation, the spirit of celebrating the fathers is an important one given the different roles played by fathers in societies.

The idea of a father is not limited to biological fathers, but to everyone who is a father-figure to someone – in one way or another. Fathers play this God given role better when there are healthy, in all forms; physically, mentally and spiritually.

Among the gifts and the good wishes that will be shared on Fathers’ Day will be wishes of good health, hence my focus today is to remind all fathers on the reasons they deserve to stay healthy through services available for them.

Being healthy and in good condition is one of the best gifts that helps men as fathers to be there for their families. As a father, the best gift you can give yourself in this month of June is to take the responsibility for your health.

Here is a friendly reminder on some of the services men can get in the different health facilities the country has:

On a personal level, when a father goes for his medical check-ups, he has an opportunity to screen and test for HIV, screen for TB and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), diabetes, blood pressure as well as prostate cancer; and get relevant treatment depending on your results.

When you know your health condition on time, you are in a better position to take care of yourself, minimise any detrimental effects and lead a healthy lifestyle with appropriate support.

Other health services for men include the Voluntary Male Medical Circumcision (VMMC), access to condoms and health education on safe sex, psychosocial support to help men deal with different stressors, and prevention of HIV to your sexual partner, and to your unborn child.

The good news is that if you are living with HIV and you are on treatment, there are a variety of options on how you may access your medication such as accessing them via community ART groups or at the place of your work, getting more than one-month treatment supply depending on your health condition, your lifestyle and work.

For those who have health clinics at work, they can access their treatment at workplace.

At family level, men are decision makers and if they get good information regarding their health and they can make informed decisions for their families. That role can start when a husband and wife decide to start a family:

Family planning is very broad, it is inclusive of deciding on the number of children to have, spacing and when to have them. If you are HIV, you have to ensure your baby is born free from the virus. It is important for the father to go to the clinic together as a family so that you learn better health options from the health care provider.

If your wife is pregnant as a caring father, you are encouraged to support your partner/wife or mother- to-be when she goes for her ante-natal clinic visits to learn together as a couple regardless of how many children you have had before.

During these visits the couple will access HIV testing services for the mother to be, unborn baby and for the father as well as screening for STIs. The father to be will receive education on how to support the mother to be. Caring fathers are actively involved during pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and post-natal care.

Did you know that you if you come to the facility with your partner you don’t queue, you are served early as a way to encourage men to be more involved in maternal health?

Did you know that the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the development partners has done a lot to address barriers that limited men to access the health services as follows?

  • There is an increasing number of male nurses and men serving in different departments within the health facilities as evidence has shown that men prefer to be served by other men, as they understand each other better.
  • In some hospitals and clinics there are exclusive clinics which serve men only and the staff in such clinics are men only. Ask your nearest facilities to learn about the various services.
  • There are some facilities that open early before the normal working hours in order to allow men to be access services before they go to work or on weekends when they are not at work.
  • There are men led dialogues at community level, which are targeting men and boys to talk about their health, and to sensitise them about the different services and how they can access them. Get involved, be part of the dialogue. These dialogues are happening at village level or in the selected churches as an opportunity to reach more men with information.

“If you are a young man, and interested in being involved, you can serve as a peer educator, lay counsellor and community health educator”.

Men are forever needed to play these vital roles in providing services to other men.

“If you are a young man and undecided on what to study, you may consider going into health sciences.”

There are many disciplines where men can contribute to the health sector.

“Eat well, remember you are what you eat. Don’t forget vegetables in your daily diet. Watch your weight and remain physical active at all times.”

As healthy father, who takes care of his health even when he is not sick can be a role model to his children especially a boy child to encourage them that it is important to take care of your health.

The best gift you can give yourself as a father, which will go a long way in benefiting your family is to go for your medical check-ups, even if you are still feeling healthy. This applies to all the fathers, whether you are a young adult, middle age or a grandfather. Your health is important to your family. It is never too late. If you are not healthy, start today.

  • Palesa Matšasa is the founder of ‘Find Your Voice Initiative’ a social set-up where people come together to discuss, reflect and learn from each other. She is a public speaker and a writer who focuses on Arts, Culture and Health issues. She can be reached at 5884 772 or 




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