Why married men die mostly before their wives in Africa

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Why do married men die mostly before their wives in Africa?

By Obinna Ejianya (9News Nigeria – Melbourne, Australia)

Marriage, a union often associated with companionship and support, paradoxically presents a statistical anomaly in Africa—married men tend to pass away before their wives. This phenomenon has puzzled many and invites a closer examination of the intricate interplay of cultural, societal, healthcare, lifestyle, and biological factors that contribute to this disparity.

Cultural and Societal Factors (Traditional Gender Roles)
In many African societies, traditional gender roles dictate that men are the primary providers and protectors of the family. This often translates into men taking on more stressful and physically demanding roles, leading to increased susceptibility to health issues.

Economic Disparities
Persistent economic disparities contribute to stress and strain on men, who may feel pressured to provide for their families despite limited resources. This economic burden can lead to chronic stress, exacerbating health problems.

Stress and Mental Health
The stigma surrounding mental health issues in Africa often discourages men from seeking help for stress, anxiety, or depression. Consequently, untreated mental health conditions can manifest as physical ailments, contributing to premature mortality.

Healthcare Disparities (Access to Healthcare)
Limited access to quality healthcare services, particularly in rural areas, hinders timely diagnosis and treatment of health conditions among men. Cultural barriers and financial constraints further impede men from seeking medical attention until their conditions have progressed significantly.

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Health-Seeking Behavior
Social norms may discourage men from prioritizing their health or seeking medical assistance until symptoms become severe. Additionally, traditional healers are sometimes preferred over conventional medicine, delaying essential interventions.

Lifestyle Factors (Diet and Nutrition)
Poor dietary habits, including high consumption of processed foods and low intake of fruits and vegetables, contribute to a higher prevalence of obesity, hypertension, and cardiovascular diseases among men in Africa.

Substance Abuse
Alcohol and tobacco use are prevalent among men in many African countries. Substance abuse not only directly impacts physical health but also increases the risk of accidents and injuries, contributing to premature mortality.

Work-Related Stress (Occupational Hazards)
Men are often employed in physically demanding and hazardous occupations such as mining, construction, and agriculture. Exposure to workplace hazards increases the likelihood of accidents and occupational diseases, leading to premature death.

Work-Life Balance
Long working hours and the pressure to succeed professionally can strain familial relationships and lead to neglect of personal health. Balancing work responsibilities with family and self-care becomes challenging, exacerbating health risks.

Biological Factors (Genetics)
Genetic predispositions to certain diseases, such as cardiovascular disorders and certain cancers, may contribute to the higher mortality rate among married men. Familial history of illnesses can amplify the impact of lifestyle and environmental factors on health outcomes.

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Hormonal Differences
Biological differences between men and women, including hormonal profiles, may influence susceptibility to various health conditions. Hormonal imbalances or deficiencies can predispose men to certain diseases, affecting life expectancy.

In conclusion, the disproportionate mortality rate of married men in Africa is a multifaceted issue influenced by cultural, societal, healthcare, lifestyle, and biological factors. Addressing this disparity requires a holistic approach that encompasses education, healthcare access, mental health awareness, and gender equality initiatives. By acknowledging and addressing the underlying determinants of premature male mortality, communities can strive towards healthier and more equitable outcomes for all.

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