• Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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BusinessDay

In search of better health in 2013

Emergency healthcare in Nigeria- creating a workable system out of chaos

One of the things that ought to rank highest in a nation’s scheme of things is ensuring a lasting healthcare delivery system for its citizens. It is unarguable that good health goes a long way to define a people’s productivity, which in turn impacts the nation’s revenue and exchange earnings, territorial integrity, and rating among counterpart nations.

The heart is probably the most important organ in the human body. It is structured in a way that gives it nearly unequalled prominence – being the distributor and director of the life-wire of existence: the blood. While its importance and consequences of dearth are known to all, it is also necessary to note that the blood also transports not only salts and other nutrients necessary for life, but even oxygen without which life terminates in seconds is also made to reach every part of the body by the bloodstream. As such, it is not a surprise that an organ whose duty it is to move such material will be given such recognition as to form the crux of a worldwide observance.

Realising the essentiality of the human heart to existence, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has singled out the integral threat to the functioning of the heart – hypertension – and with typical focus has placed it high on the observatory and empirical limelight. Statistics and figures abound of the length, breadth and height of its damage the world over, particularly in developing countries. On April 7 every year, the day set aside to celebrate World Health Day, the United Nations through the WHO seeks to appraise health conditions all over the world with a view to assessing the prevalent health challenges, brainstorming and forming a roadmap out of the challenge, and then strategising on the most feasible way out. The theme of this year’s World Health Day centred on hypertension, which has been recognised as a priority area in world public health concerns.

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Hypertension is a condition whereby more stress than necessary is placed on the heart and its structured function in the body. In hypertension, this excess load placed on the organ is largely due to impediments placed in the way of smooth blood flow through the length of the course, and down to the target organ and location. Otherwise known as high blood pressure, it is the main risk factor that exposes the victim to strokes, heart failure, and even kidney failure. Statistics-wise, it has been noted that one in every three adults in the world has hypertension, and the worst hit regions are, of course, developing Africa and Asia, with prevalence rate in Africa as high as 40 percent. The dangerous characteristic is that it is an infirmity whose bite is spontaneous, though built up over a long period of time.

Fundamentally, hypertension is given a strong foothold in the body when the pressure exerted in pumping blood is not fully dissipated due to blockages, both in the blood vessels and at the various destinations. These blockages, particularly of a fatty nature, are aggravated due to excessive salt and alcohol intake, tobacco use, and a relatively inert lifestyle.

By commemorations such as this, the United Nations through the WHO seeks to draw attention to this disease, which ranks very high among non-communicable diseases, and does its utmost to drastically reduce its incidence and prevalence by the already publicised modes of better and more effective detection, as well as adopting feeding and lifestyle habits parallel to the route of the disease. It is a clarion call to member governments of the United Nations, of which Nigeria is one, to key into the lofty dreams of the world body to avail their citizens of the long-awaited lease of good health and wellness on all fronts.

The choice of hypertension as the theme of this year’s observance is both symbolic and strategic, especially in the Nigerian parlance, and is as well instructive, since this is a major determinant of the average life expectancy of the people. It has constituted the harp in the rhythm of inundating calls from many quarters on the government not to rest on its oars in its bid to provide the Nigerian people with lasting and equitable healthcare, a situation which leaves so much to be desired at present. The relevant health authorities ought to take note and add a healthy smile to the many prides of being a Nigerian.