Professor Robert Hutchinson, Provost of Coleraine, rolled up his sleeves and led by example this week when a major cancer charity provided potentially life-saving mobile health checks for male staff at the campus.
Cancer Focus Northern Ireland, the new name for the Ulster Cancer Foundation,linked up with the University’s School of Nursing and staff in the University’s Occupational Health section to provide male employees with a ‘mini health-MOT’ .
It is the latest stage in the Cancer Focus ‘ManAlive’ project which provides health checks and lifestyle information directly to men where they work, play and live.
Studies carried out by Cancer Focus in partnership with the School of Nursing have highlighted men as a ‘high risk’ group in relation to cancer and its prevention. Researchers say key findings showed men want bite-sized information provided in convenient local venues. The research results form a cornerstone of the ‘ManAlive’ project.
Professor Hutchinson said: “As a major employer, the University is well aware of the importance of having a fit and healthy workforce and I will certainly be going along to have my health checked. The ‘ManAlive’ project is a marvellous idea and I encourage all our male employees to avail of this very valuable service”.
“As well as the check itself, this is a worthwhile opportunity, too, for men to ask questions about their health. And the good thing is, you hardly even have to leave your desk to do it – you just go down to the ManVan.”
The ManVan provided a range of baseline health checks and information on cancer prevention and lifestyle management, supported by University colleagues operating a foyer display and dispensing additional information about healthy living and wellbeing. Checks available included weight, height and body mass index measures and tests for blood pressure, spot cholesterol and blood glucose
The event focused on the importance of hydration and health, and each participant received a ManAlive bottle labelled withadvice about water intake.
Professor Eilis McCaughan, Professor of Cancer Care at the University of Ulster, said: “We need to recognise that we are losing a significant proportion of our working age men through premature mortality. Poor lifestyles and preventable risk factors are still some of the principle causes of premature death and morbidity in men, with over 50% of premature deaths being avoidable. It is therefore essential that Men’s health promotion is targeted at the places where they are found.”
Sandra Gordon, ManAlive Project Co-ordinator at Cancer Focus said: “Every year about 4,000 men in Northern Ireland are newly diagnosed with cancer and around 2,100 die from the disease. Two-thirds of cancers could be prevented by adopting a healthier lifestyle and it’s never too late for men to start incorporating simple but effective cancer prevention measures into their daily life. Adopting a healthy diet, increasing physical activity, moderating alcohol consumption, stopping smoking and taking care in the sun are all positive measures that can dramatically reduce your chances of developing cancer.”