COVID19 has exposed the carelessness and neglect in men’s health in Malawi and world as a whole. We have seen sex disaggregated data from Malawi and other nations across the globe crying out more male deaths due to COVID19 than female. More men are forcefully leaving earth.
Global research has shown that COVID19 case fatality ratio is approximately 2.4 times higher among men than among women and this pattern is also evident in Malawi. These impeccable differences in fatality ratio should alarm us as a nation that we are losing more Young men, Dads, and Grandpas to COVID19.
Surely there must be attributable factors accounting to this significant difference in the mortalities. We will discuss these eminent differences using a biopsychosocial approach—we will look at the biological causes but we will dwell much on the social and psychological aspect.
We will not discuss in greater detail on biological aspect as this molecular biology is alien to many people. But I will share equally the meat for the curious minds to nourish themselves—recent research by Hoffmann et al and Moore et al has shown that COVID19 has a greater affinity for a receptor Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 (ACE2) which Salma et al demonstrated that ACE2 levels are higher in men than in women hence increasing the susceptibility in men. These accounts for the multisystem illness in pulmonary, gut, renal, cardiac and central nervous system and therefore the death.
A greater proportion of the differences has its epicenter on the psychosocial behaviors of men. More men are being frivolous with COVID19. Most of our young men, Dads and grandpas are more likely to downplay the disease severity and indulge in high risk behaviors which has a bearing on the public health prevention measures instituted—men are less likely to wash hands frequently or properly put on a Face mask. These group of people are less likely to avoid public gatherings—watching English premier league in bars, TV rooms and other places, tossing a bottle of Castel beer in clouded bars, pubs and other drinking arenas etc.
Men also have a compromised health seeking behavior. They are less likely to seek medical attention when they exhibit initial symptoms of COVID19 or any other disease in general unlike women hence delaying prompt treatment. Needless to say, a lot of men indulge in behaviors linked to COVID19 for instance smoking and drinking alcohol, and the nature of jobs most men do puts them in more danger each day as they hustle for the their families.
Psychologically, Men are more likely to have a more negative psychological response to COVID19 than women. They are more likely to have feelings of anger, guilty and consequently depression. There are more likely to move slowly in the stages of grief. These have a negative impact in any disease progression and recovery and more so in COVID19.
I recommend to the government through the ministry of health and other relevant stakeholders to construe the health behaviors in men and coin their education messages, adverts to target men to change their perception and behavior towards COVID19. In the conquest of taking a multidisciplinary approach to COVID19, the government must involve MEN OF TOMORROW (MOTO-MALAWI) who already have affairs of men at heart and other TV programs like Chill-spot on Mibawa TV hosted by Steven Mlangiza. Sex disaggregated data should also be made available on the daily COVID19 updates provided by the COVID19 presidential task force.