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Teagasc Supports Men’s Health Week

Teagasc, through its research, advisory, education, training, and media programmes, supports Men’s Health Week. Men's Health Week always begins on the Monday before Father's Day and ends on Father's Day itself. In 2021, it will run from Monday 14th until Sunday 20th 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 having poorer outcomes.

Among farmers in Ireland, research by Dr Breda Smyth MD has shown that farmers experience 5 times higher cardiovascular, 3 times higher cancer and 7 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 famer’s health training programme called ‘On Feirm Ground’. Both scholars are attached to the National Centre for Men’s Health, Institute of Technology, 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 jeopardise 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. ‘Pick one or a couple of health   initiatives that need to be worked-on. There is a wide range of information available from the Health Services Executive while a Farmer Health Booklet ‘Fit for Farming’ is available on the web. He added, ’as the Economy opens up from COVID-19 pandemic more opportunities for both physical exercise and social engagement will be available over the summer months.’

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.

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