By Suzanne Pender
TEAGASC has announced its support for Men’s Health Week through its research, advisory, education, training and media programme.
Men’s Health Week runs all next week until Father’s Day, Sunday 20 June.
While males constitute almost 50% of the population in Ireland, they experience a disproportionate burden of premature mortality, have poorer lifestyles that are responsible for a high proportion of chronic disease and present late to health services, leading to many problems, resulting in poorer outcomes.
Among farmers in Ireland, research by Dr Breda Smyth has shown that farmers experience five times higher cardiovascular, three times higher cancer and seven times higher mortality in the working age range than ‘white collar’ workers.
Teagasc is currently sponsoring two PhD Walsh Scholarships on farmer health.
Diana van Doorn is researching approaches to assist farmers to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in a study called ‘Farmers have hearts’.
Conor Hammersley is researching the design of a farmer’s health training programme called ‘On feirm ground’.
Both scholars are attached to the national centre for Men’s Health at IT Carlow.
Findings of both studies are available on the Teagasc website and further research findings will be published later in 2021.
According to Teagasc health and safety specialist Dr John McNamara, research by Teagasc has shown that disability arising from ill health or injury massively interferes with farmer lifestyle and can jeopardises the livelihood of farm families due to reduced capacity to farm efficiently, which consequently reduces income.
He also stated that recent research indicates that farmers give health issues less attention than aspects of safety implementation.
The Teagasc specialist stated that Men’s Health Week is a great time to “kick-start a personal health initiative”.
A wide range of information is available from the HSE, while a farmer health booklet entitled Fit for farming is available on the web.
Dr McNamara stated that reluctance to get a regular health check could lead to farmers suffering outcomes that are more serious in the longer term. Getting a regular health check by a medical doctor is a vital cornerstone to maintaining health, as it allows issues to be monitored and picked up before progressing to serious issues.