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Men in need of health WOFs


Emily Ireland

It’s second nature to get a Warrant of Fitness for a vehicle, but when it comes to personal health, many men put it on the back-burner.

This month, the men at Whaiora Medical Centre are pushing the importance of health WOFs.

Dr Pete Morrison said as a GP, he sees a lot less males than females come in for check-ups.

“There is a disparity in accessing services,” he said.

“I think some of that is due to the Kiwi attitude, but it might be bigger than that.

“I get the feeling that with men’s health, a lot of it is about self-confidence, self-esteem, and putting value on being a man in our society.”

Dr Pete said men had lost the ability to communicate with each other about health concerns and tended to be “quite isolated in our thoughts and communication” compared with women.

“We need to get to a level where word of mouth takes over and men feel comfortable to talk to other men about things . . . suddenly it becomes acceptable to go to the doctor.

“We need to get men in early to talk about their chest pain or rectal bleeding or whatever it happens to be.”

Whaiora social worker with Family Start John Slater said in his experience, “men have a tendency to just be quiet about their health issues and get over it”.

“If our kids are not well or our partners, we send them to the doctors straight away, but as men, we just stay quiet and stay away from the medical system as much as possible.

“Most of the time, we have to be really sick before we even think about going to the doctor.

“Quite often it can be too late.”

John encouraged men to embrace the idea of proactive health “rather than waiting on some form of crisis”.

“It’s easier to go to doctor when you’ve got infected sinuses, and you can’t breathe through your nose and your throat is burning than it is to go in and say, hey, can you give me a Warrant of Fitness check?

Fellow social worker and Tamariki services manager Louis Witbooi said it was okay for men to have a WOF check for themselves.

“We can only deal with what we know,” he said.

“Let’s stop hiding from the unknown.”

There are a range of Men’s Health brochures at the counter of Whaiora which explain common symptoms to talk to the doctor about and various checks that are available on request.

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