The Men’s Health Unit of the Public Health Ministry (MoPH) teamed up last week with GuySuCo to train GuySuCo’s medical, clerical and administrative staff to help ex-sugar workers reintegrate into the society.The ensuing workshop was part of broader initiatives targeting some 4000 recently-retrenched Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) workers, some of whom the MoPH Men’s Health Coordinator, Dr Dennis Bassier, said have fallen into a destructive lifestyle.Dr Bassier said although the number of unemployed former GuySuCo employees has decreased with the reopening of one of the sugar estates, the programme is gathering momentum, because the MoPH realises that some affected persons have “gone on to engage in lifestyles that are not desirable as it relates to their health.” Dr Bassier and Ms Bonita Harris, a Consultant/Educator who has done extensive work in men’s and adolescent health over the last years, spearheaded the 5-day MoPH/GuySuCo training scheme which was held at the National PublicConsultant/Educator Bonita Harris and Dr Bassier pose with workshop participantsHealth Reference Laboratory. The skills-enhancing workshop targeted workers attached to various health centres and sugar estates in Essequibo Islands/West Demerara (Region 3); Demerara/Mahaica (Region 4); Mahaica/Berbice (Region 5) and East Berbice/Corentyne (Region 6).In his assessment of the programme, Dr Bassier said, “We actually see this programme as necessary going forward, to actually assist them (sugar workers) in their specific health needs as well as their social lives, which will be impacting them more than their physical health.”He said the workshop, the first of its kind, would better prepare participants and make them more tolerant of the issues facing men, not only in the sugar industry, but those accessing health care from the broader health sector. Bassier is confident the beneficiaries of the workshop are now skilled to organise in-house training and offer sensitisation sessions on men’s health at their workplaces.One of the participants, Roy Porter, a Field Auditor from Enmore Estate, described the workshop as impactful and able to raise awareness on a number of issues, which will aid his personal growth and development and transform him into a better employee.“From this men’s health work, I’ve learnt a lot, especially about self-awareness. Coming into this workshop, I thought I knew a lot about myself, but in the end I found out I didn’t. Being self-aware is the first step in helping people, and self-management is important,” Porter acknowledged.He is hopeful that GuySuCo and the MoPH would sustain the current programme and offer more training/workshops on health-related issues affecting men.Meanwhile, Samantha De Freitas, Midwife attached to the Cotton Tree Health Centre in Region Five (Mahaica/Berbice), said the workshop has equipped her with a wide array of knowledge, and she is now motivated to launch a men’s health clinic at the health centre by mid-May 2018.“This workshop is very beneficial to me. I thought I was coming to do chronic illness and diabetes that affect men, but instead we had presentations on erectile dysfunction and prostate cancer, which are very common among men”. De Freitas said.The Men’s Health Unit was first established in 2015 through the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Programme at the MoPH. One of its major roles is to help sensitise men nationwide about their health.