Dispelling myths and misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine among men remains a huge uphill task in South Africa. This is evident when looking at the vaccination statistics in which men make up less than 40% of fully vaccinated South Africans.
Deputy Health Minister, Sibongiseni Dlomo, hit the spot when he stated that “men are not generally health-seeking species”.
“We always encourage South Africans, especially men, to get vaccinated because they are lagging behind,” said Dlomo.
Taking the plunge
He was speaking at a men’s dialogue in Vosloorus to various health issues including COVID-19, male circumcision, HIV & AIDS and TB. The event, made possible by the health department and Isibaya Samadoda, also featured discussions on gender-based violence (GBV).
Thabo Tsotets, 28, said the initiative was very helpful.
“This is a great platform because you get to interact with different people. I have also gained the courage to get my COVID-19 vaccine. I didn’t want to because of all the things people were saying,” said Tsotets.
Another attendee, Themba Mabuza, is still unsure about being jabbed.
“I have been living with HIV/AIDS for the past 10 years and I want to encourage people to continue having treatment to live longer. I’m circumcised but I’m still unsure about the COVID-19 vaccine.”
Men’s health under the spotlight
Isibaya Samadoda founder, Prince Nhlanganiso Zulu, said men need platforms to talk about issues that affect them for change to happen.
“Since the COVID-19 pandemic, reports have shown that violence against women and children is on the rise. We are providing a platform for men to have these difficult conversations which will help provide solutions and social behavioural change. Change is only possible when responsibility and accountability take place,” said Zulu.
Meaning a ‘circle of men’ in Zulu, provides a “360 degree view of men’s health” and currently has 42 300 followers on Facebook.
Other men who attended the event agreed with the prince’s sentiment.
Sipho Bhengu (33) from Katlehong said he attended because he wanted to learn more about men’s health issues.
“I attended this dialogue because I wanted to learn more. I will also get circumcised because this will protect me and my partner,” said Bhengu. – Health-e News