• Monday, June 17, 2024
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A silent killer: Nigeria’s growing battle with cardiovascular disease

A silent killer: Nigeria’s growing battle with cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) – a term encompassing heart disease, stroke, and other conditions affecting the heart and blood vessels – has emerged as a leading health threat in Nigeria. While this trend mirrors a global rise in CVD, the situation in Nigeria presents unique challenges.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 17.9 million people die from CVD globally each year, with over 75 percent of these deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries like Nigeria. Here, inadequate public awareness, limited access to screening programmes, and a weak healthcare infrastructure all contribute to a rising death toll.

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Risk factors on the rise

Several factors are fueling a perfect storm for heart trouble in Nigeria. One key driver is the nation’s growing elderly population. As more Nigerians live longer lives, the natural consequence is an increase in age-related health issues, with CVD being a major concern. Compounding this trend are the increasingly unhealthy lifestyles being adopted by many Nigerians. Busy schedules and urbanisation often lead to physical inactivity, with people glued to screens instead of lacing up their sneakers.

Furthermore, a shift towards processed foods, sugary drinks, and excessive salt intake is creating a ticking time bomb for heart health. To make matters worse, tobacco use remains a significant public health challenge, further raising the risk of cardiovascular complications. This confluence of factors necessitates a comprehensive approach to tackling CVD in Nigeria.

“We’re seeing a significant rise in risk factors like high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity,” says Dr. Olurotimi Badero, Chief Interventional Cardiologist and Director of Cardiac Catheterization Lab at Iwosan Lagoon Hospitals. “These conditions put immense strain on the cardiovascular system, increasing the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other complications.”

Limited resources, high stakes

Nigeria’s healthcare system faces a significant challenge in tackling CVD. The country has a limited number of hospitals equipped to handle complex cardiac procedures, with only 13 centres performing heart surgery nationwide. Furthermore, a shortage of skilled cardiologists creates a bottleneck in accessing proper diagnosis and treatment.

“Public hospitals can leverage the expertise and advanced technology of private institutions, while private entities can gain valuable insights into the specific needs of the wider community.”

“The lack of investment in specialist care at scale is a major hurdle,” says Dr. Badero. “While some developed countries have made significant progress in reducing CVD through public health initiatives, Nigeria is still working towards establishing such a system.”

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A Beacon of hope: Investing in excellence

Despite the daunting challenges facing cardiovascular care in Nigeria, institutions like Iwosan Lagoon Hospital are emerging as rays of hope. Their Centre of Excellence for Cardiology and Cardiac Care stands as a testament to their unwavering commitment to bridging the gap. This centre is a game-changer, offering patients access to an arsenal of advanced diagnostic tools. Kindly consider a future where intricate heart problems can be identified with remarkable precision, allowing for timely intervention.

Gone are the days of invasive procedures; at Iwosan Lagoon, minimally invasive techniques are the norm. This translates to quicker recovery times, less discomfort for patients, and a more positive overall experience. But their dedication goes beyond just technology. The centre prioritises personalised treatment plans, ensuring each patient receives a tailored approach that addresses their unique needs and medical history. This signifies a shift towards a future of holistic care, where patients are not just treated for an illness, but treated as individuals.

“Our goal is to provide exceptional patient care using cutting-edge technology,” explains Dr. Badero. “We’ve invested in a modern catheterization laboratory that allows us to diagnose and treat a wide range of heart conditions with greater precision and efficiency.”

Beyond treatment: A holistic approach

Iwosan Lagoon Hospital recognizes the importance of prevention and patient education. They conduct community outreach programmes to raise awareness about CVD risk factors and early detection methods. Additionally, they offer subsidised procedures to ensure affordability is not a barrier to life-saving care.

A collective effort for a healthier future

While the commendable efforts of individual hospitals like Iwosan Lagoon are a beacon of hope, truly taming this silent killer demands a multi-pronged attack from various stakeholders. Imagine a future where state-of-the-art cardiac centres like these are not isolated exceptions, but rather the standard across the country. This vision can be achieved through increased government investment in healthcare infrastructure. This could involve building new hospitals equipped with cutting-edge technology, renovating existing facilities, and ensuring they are adequately staffed with qualified medical professionals.

Furthermore, dedicating more resources to research funding is vital. By supporting Nigerian researchers, we can develop evidence-based strategies for prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation specifically tailored to address the unique risk factors present in the Nigerian population. Finally, fostering collaboration between public and private healthcare providers can unlock a treasure trove of benefits. Public hospitals can leverage the expertise and advanced technology of private institutions, while private entities can gain valuable insights into the specific needs of the wider community.

This collaborative spirit can not only accelerate innovation in treatment methods, but also lead to more efficient resource mobilisation, ensuring that life-saving interventions become more accessible to all Nigerians.

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“We believe the key lies in a collective effort,” says Fola Laoye, Co-founder and CEO of Iwosan Investments Limited. “By addressing the various contributing factors, strengthening healthcare systems, and fostering collaboration across all levels of society, Nigeria can make significant strides in overcoming this silent killer.”

Nigeria’s battle with CVD is far from over. However, with increased awareness, investment in specialised care, and a commitment to prevention, the country can build a healthier future for its citizens.