Editorial: Just one flaw in the plan

PETER O'NEILL
Last updated 05:00 29/11/2013

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There is a flaw in the Government's plan for a nationwide prostate cancer awareness programme for men.

And the flaw is ... men.

Urging them to pick up a new booklet from their GP and complete a checklist of symptoms raises three immediate questions. What does GP stand for? Who is our GP then? And what is a checklist?

The underlying and well-known problem here is that, when it comes to their health, men are stupid.

It is a sign of weakness, you see, to admit to another man you might have a health issue. (Entirely different if you have a sniffle and a nearby woman may be sympathetic.)

And it is absolute lunacy to think your average man would go to a doctor "just in case". We're too busy, you see, with important stuff, like taking our car for a check-up.

And, frankly, we're wimps. Even the words "finger" and "bottom" in the same sentence make us squirm.

So, as well intentioned as the Government's plan is, it may require some tweaking.

And in that it could take some lessons from Timaru's Movember network, Ti-mo-ru, which has been big this year on health education through a mobile man cave.

It's low key. It's about "chilling out and asking questions". And best of all, it comes to you.

Maybe the Government could replicate that nationwide.

So far a prostate awareness campaign has been in the too hard basket. Testing is not always reliable and it is hard to define who might be most vulnerable.

Yet more than 3000 cases of prostate cancer are registered each year. It's the most common cancer in New Zealand men. And if found early, chances of survival are improved.

So it makes sense that more information is provided, and that the appropriate way is found to deliver it.

Now, where is that hammer?

Another thing: Talking about stupidity and health, with every report that comes out on the effects of synthetic cannabis you have to wonder how on earth such a product was ever allowed to be sold.

It's not like New Zealand was the first country to get this stuff.

Laws have been passed to correct the situation, but hopefully there's some urgency in the background around developing the more rigorous testing regime we're supposed to be getting.

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- The Timaru Herald

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