Tuesday October 15, 2019

Nigeria Seeing Increasing Cases of Heart Disease

But a non profit is collaborating with the World Heart Federation to provide proper education and treatment for underprivileged patients

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Nigeria, Heart Disease, Awareness
FILE - Women with their children wait to see doctors at a clinic operated by Doctors without Borders in Bagega village in northeastern state of Zamfara, Nigeria, Aug. 14, 2013. VOA

Health experts say Nigeria is seeing increasing cases of heart disease. Low awareness, lack of adequate medical facilities and expertise are major factors worsening the situation in the country. But a non profit is collaborating with the World Heart Federation to provide proper education and treatment for underprivileged patients.

Participants chat at an awareness and fundraising event to mark World Heart Day in Abuja, the Nigerian capital.

The program is organized by the non-profit, Global Development and Charity Support Foundation in collaboration with the World Heart Federation.

Head of the non profit, Samuel Asomugha says apart from educating locals on the early signs of heart disease, his organization is making funds available to treat patients.

Nigeria, Heart Disease, Awareness
Health experts say Nigeria is seeing increasing cases of heart disease. Pixabay

“When you have a healthy heart, then you can lead a healthy life, then a lot of these health and heart related mortalities can be avoided,” he said.

The non-profit targets about 1,000 patients for treatment.

A 2018 WHO country profile reveals cardiovascular diseases is the leading cause of deaths among non-communicable diseases in Nigeria with over 11 percent prevalence.

“Whichever heart disease you want to look at, whether it’s heart failure, whether it’s coronary artery disease, the incidence of patients who are coming forward to hospital is on the rise,” says cardiologist Dauda Balami.

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Congenital heart deformities in children are also on the rise.

Nnamdi Azubuike’s one-year-old child was diagnosed with a heart condition in 2015.

“We found out that he was not breathing very well, so we went to the hospital and after the analysis, then a doctor now told us that he’s having a hole in his heart,” said Azubuike.

Heart related conditions often require tertiary level care and sophisticated surgeries but Nigeria lacks medical facilities and the expertise needed.

Nigeria, Heart Disease, Awareness
Low awareness, lack of adequate medical facilities and expertise are major factors worsening the situation. Pixabay

Paediatrician and cardiologist Tolu Utele, admits the situation is serious.

“It is almost like a death sentence for children that are born with these heart defects, all we do in most places is to manage them until they die and many of them actually end up dying,” said Utele.

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As talks around heart issues continue in Nigeria, citizens, nonprofits and many with conditions hope things get better. (VOA)

Next Story

Hundreds of School Children in Nigeria Join Global Fight for Climate Action

To achieve this, she started planting trees around her school and neighborhood, and recycles used plastic bags into shower cap

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School, Children, Nigeria
FILE - Nigerian youths gather to protest climate change and poor environmental practices, in Abuja, Nigeria, Sept. 20, 2019. VOA

Sixteen-year old Faithwins Iwuh — who is sometimes referred to as Nigeria’s Greta Thunberg — wants Nigeria to contribute to the global fight against climate change.

To achieve this, she started planting trees around her school and neighborhood, and recycles used plastic bags into shower caps.

Iwuh says she has been concerned about the effects of poor environmental practices for years.

“I started having this guilt anytime I see someone throw something out the window or I see people dispose wrongly,” she said. “I felt as if they were harming me and when I began to think about it, in a certain way they were harming me because it’s my future. If I do not take care of it now, I may not have a generation.”

School, Children, Nigeria
FILE – Protesters march to demand action on climate change, on the streets in Lagos, Nigeria, Sept. 20, 2019. VOA

An estimated 4 million students worldwide have taken part in the “Fridays for Future” movement, launched by Thunberg in Sweden in August 2018.

In recent months, hundreds of schoolchildren in NIgeria joined the movement. Two weeks ago, 300 students from 10 schools walked out of classes to protest in Abuja.

Fanny Nyalander, the Swedish ambassador to Nigeria, calls the action “inspiring.”

“I think it’s fantastic to see the young generation taking responsibilities and asking for climate action to be taken [seriously] — because it is their future and their future planet that is endangered,” she said. “So it is incredible and very inspiring to see that young people of Nigeria are standing up and asking for actions to be taken.”

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Iwuh, however, is concerned that awareness of environmental threats in Nigeria remains low.

“Not very many people know about this,” she said. “Only a handful know about this problem. I’m lucky to be one of the few that know about this and I’m trying my best to sell the idea to the world that it needs to save it from ending.”

Nigeria is the biggest importer of fossil fuel-powered generators in Africa, and therefore one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases.

Environmental experts like David Michael say climate change has serious consequences in Nigeria.

School, Children, Nigeria
Sixteen-year old Faithwins Iwuh — who is sometimes referred to as Nigeria’s Greta Thunberg — wants Nigeria to contribute to the global fight against climate change. Pixabay

“Unfortunately, we in Africa contribute very little to the course of climate change, less than 3 percent, but we’re the most vulnerable continent,” he said. “And, of course, in Nigeria here the effects are everywhere — the desertification up north, sea rise down south, in the middle belt, the crisis between farmers and herders.”

At a summit last December, Nigeria was one of 195 countries and territories that agreed to take steps to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

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In real-world politics, that pledge is more likely to be fulfilled if more schoolchildren like Iwuh demand immediate action toward that goal. (VOA)