Stay Alive with 'ManAlive'

Professor Eilis McCaughan checks the blood pressure of Coleraine Provost Professor Robert Hutchinson during the ManVan visit to Ulster's Coleraine campus

Two University of Ulster Provosts will lead by example this week when a major cancer charity provides potentially life-saving mobile health checks for male staff at two campuses.

Cancer Focus Northern Ireland, the new name for the Ulster Cancer Foundation, is linking with the University’s School of Nursing and staff in the University’s Occupational Health section to provide male employees with a ‘mini health-MOT’ at Coleraine on Wednesday June 20 and Jordanstown on Thursday June 21.

Coleraine Provost Professor Robert Hutchinson and Jordanstown Provost Professor Alastair Adair will each attend for a check when the charity’s ‘ManVan’ rolls up - and they are urging all their colleagues to do so, too.

It is the latest stage in the Cancer Focus ‘ManAlive’ project which provides health checks and lifestyle information directly to men where they work, play and live.

Studies carried out by Cancer Focus in partnership with the School of Nursing have highlighted men as a ‘high risk’ group in relation to cancer and its prevention. Researchers say key findings showed men want bite-sized information provided in convenient local venues. The research results form a cornerstone of the ‘ManAlive’ project.

Professor Adair said: “The University is keen that the health and wellbeing of all of our staff should be of primary importance. It’s timely to get the offer of a health check like this ‘on the premises’, and I hope my campus colleagues will join me at the ManVan.

“As well as the check itself,this is a worthwhile opportunity, too, for men to ask questions about their health. And the good thing is, you hardly even have to leave your desk to do it – you just go down to the ManVan.”

Professor Hutchinson said: “As a major employer, the University is well aware of the importance of having a fit and healthy workforce and I will certainlybe going along to have my health checked. The ‘ManAlive’ project is a marvellous idea and I encourage all our male employees to avail of this very valuable service”.

The ManVan will be on campus from 9.30AM – 4.00PM. Cancer Focus will provide a range of baseline health checks and information on cancer prevention and lifestyle management, supported by their University colleagues operating a foyer display and dispensing additional information about healthy living and wellbeing. Checks available will include weight, height and body mass measures and tests for blood pressure, spot cholesterol and blood glucose

The event will have a particular focus on the importance of hydration and health, and each participant will receive a ManAlive bottle labelled with advice about water intake.

Professor Eilis McCaughan, Professor of Cancer Care at the University of Ulster, said: “We need to recognise that we are losing a significant proportion of our working age men through premature mortality. Poor lifestyles and preventable risk factors are still some of the principle causes of premature death and morbidity in men, with over 50% of premature deaths being avoidable. It is therefore essential that Men’s health promotion is targeted at the places where they are found.”

Sandra Gordon, ManAlive Project Co-ordinator at Cancer Focus said: “Every year about 4,000 men in Northern Ireland are newly diagnosed with cancer and around 2,100 die from the disease.Two-thirds of cancers could be prevented by adopting a healthier lifestyle and it’s never too late for men to start incorporating simple but effective cancer prevention measures into their daily life. Adopting a healthy diet, increasing physical activity, moderating alcohol consumption, stopping smoking and taking care in the sun are all positive measures that can dramatically reduce your chances of developing cancer.”

• UPDATE: 160 men went through the van for a health check , and over 400 men attended the information stall, according to Professor McCaughan. The UCF said it was their biggest response yet.