BY ANDREAS BUTLER
An upcoming event is geared toward helping men get serious about their health. However, organizers say it will be much more than a health fair.
A free Men’s Health Summit will take place on Saturday, April 23, from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Bethune-Cookman University’s Center for Civic Engagement.
The focus will be on silent killers that cause early deaths in the Black community such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
“Come for yourself, but also for who you know. This is not a health fair. Health fairs basically pass out fliers, trinkets and other information. This will have more details and be broken down into sessions,” said the Rev. John T. Long III, spokesman for strategic partnerships and initiatives at Halifax Health.
Halifax Health, Halifax Health Hospice, The Vince Carter Embassy of Hope and Bethune-Cookman are sponsoring the event.
Educate and inspire
The summit will include a healthy lunch, guest speakers, door prizes and a free personal health assessment, which will check blood pressure, heart rates, blood glucose level, weight and body mass index and cholesterol.
“We want to educate and inspire people to do be active with their health. We are focusing on African-Americans males because of the disparities of health in our community. We die earlier and are sicker from diseases which are more preventable. We want to do things to ensure we live longer lives,” commented Long.
The keynote speaker will be Joe Madison, host of “Joe Madison: The Black Eagle,” which airs live on Sirius XM satellite radio. Madison also is a renowned human rights and civil rights activist.
This is the first health summit of its kind and more are planned.
“The idea came from the Rev. Dr. L. Ronald Durham. It’s an opportunity to educate the community. Coming from the hospice side we’ve seen what these diseases and conditions have done. We also know that if addressed earlier, lives could have been prolonged. We hope to do these summits annually or quarterly and target different demographics,” Long explained.
Both Long, who also is pastor of Tubman-King Community Church in Daytona Beach, and Durham, Daytona Beach’s asset management director/special projects, are scheduled to speak at the summit.
Other presenters scheduled are Dr. Deanna Wathington, Bethune Cookman’s executive dean of the Petrock School of Health Sciences; Thomas Bryant III with the Florida Department of Health in Volusia County; Dr. Don Stoner, Chief Medical Officer, Halifax Health; Dr. Anthony Ombogo and Dr. Lauren Powell, also with Halifax Health; and Dr. Robert Sessoms, also with Bethune-Cookman.
Breakout sessions will deal with the social determinants of health, heart disease, health inequities in Black male, spiritual and physical health, prostate health, obesity diet and diabetes.
Fighting the stigma
There is a saying that Black men don’t go to the doctor.
“There is a stigma out there, but more important there is a level of ignorance and denial. People don’t believe that it will happen to them and that they are OK. There are a lot of resources here locally in this community but there has not being accessed,” Long noted.
He believes Black male health can be studied by two things – mortality, which is death, and morbidity, which is early death.
“Too many die early. Twenty-five percent of health is a result of clinical, which is going to the doctor. The other 75 percent is from education, jobs, diet, crime and racism, etc. These have a greater impact on health, longevity and quality of live,” explained Long.
Family history is another consideration for health.
“We will have people write down their family health history. We want to check what their family members died from, to see if there is a history of silent killers in the family like cancer, heat disease, kidney disease, etc.,” Long stated.
Women can attend
The goal is to not have the perception of other people’s health, but your own health.
“It’s not what healthy looks like to me or the ideal body weight for someone, but what a healthy you looks like to you. You may not want to give up the fried chicken. That is OK. Just don’t eat it everyday,” he advised.
Although the summit focuses on men, women play a crucial role in men’s health.
“We expect women to come as well. Women are the drivers of health in the community. If the women tell the men to go see a doctor or go to an event, then they eventually come,” Long added.