The Black Woman's Guide to Black Men's Health

Article excerpt

The Black Woman's Guide to Black Men's Health by Andrea King Collier and Willarda V. Edwards. Warner Wellness, 2007, 330 pp.

Collier and Edwards have defined in very specific terms the practical ways that Black women can improve the health of the men in their lives and communities. The text is an easy read, and therein rests the strength and potential of this document to challenge barriers, even those erected by some women's interest groups that ignore the risks to poor men's health in the United States. This important volume can lead to changes in attitudinal and health-protection advocacy behaviors, and perhaps even give greater significance to the role that women must play in protecting the health of men without fearing that gains in the health of men will come at the expense of continued advances in the health of women (Treadwell, Northridge, & Bethea, 2007).

This book is a call for greater attention to men's health in a nation that has a federal Office of Women's Health but no comparable office to oversee men's health protection. Given that we lack any national guidelines or resource tools for women who want to play a more proactive role in improving men's health, the authors have provided a remarkable resource that can be used in campaigns to bring attention to the health concerns of Black men, and to the internal and external barriers faced by Black men in accessing health care. Challenging women to take the lead is helping provide men with access to health care makes this volume unique.

The call for more attention to the health care of Black men, many of whom may be underinsured or uninsured and have been so since they left either a parent's private insurance or aged out of Medicaid (though not out of poverty), is critical. Data on gender-based health disparity in the United States affirm that Black men are in a dead heat for the bottom on any measure of morbidity and mortality and affordable options for coverage (National Vital Statistics, 2006; Centers for Disease Control, 2005). The authors address the barriers to healthcare coverage (for example, insurance that includes payment for care encompassing mental, oral, and all physical conditions), trusting relationships with providers, dietary issues, erectile dysfunction, and other topics in a "sister to sister" tone. They affirm that women must speak up and speak out on Black men's healthcare.

Collier and Edwards confirm the importance of women's roles in nurturing family and community health, and are frank about the economic and personal losses suffered when men become disabled with chronic diseases or die too soon because of late diagnosis and treatment, leaving loved ones with diminished income and companionship. …