Experts express concern over rise in cardiac diseases in Nigeria

Human heart (Photo Credit: Huffington Post)
Human heart

The Nigerian Cardiac Society (NCS) has expressed concern over a rise in cardiac diseases in the country.

The NCS, at its 48th annual general meeting and scientific conference held last month in Enugu State, noted that hypertension remains the most important cardiovascular disease risk factor in Nigeria.

“Hypertension affects more than 30 per cent of Nigerians, having been identified as the most important cardiovascular disease risk factor and the commonest cause of heart failure which has a worse prognosis than most cancers in Nigeria,” the NCS said in a communique issued after the conference.

The communique was made available to PREMIUM TIMES, Friday.

It was signed by the national president of the society, Okechukwu Ogah, a medical doctor, and the secretary-general, Augustine Odili, a medical doctor and a professor at the department of internal medicine, University of Abuja.

The society specifically mentioned ischaemic heart disease as being increasingly prevalent in Nigeria. It said the situation is complicated by poor facilities for diagnosis and adequate treatment.

The society said rheumatic heart disease, a “preventable cause of heart failure”, is still very common, especially in the country’s rural communities.

“Cardiovascular care (medical and surgical) are not adequately financed in the country and this has contributed immensely to the burden of cardiovascular disease in Nigeria.

“Most cardiovascular care spending are out-of-pocket payment which negates the national health act.

“Cardiovascular surgeries and interventions are currently gaining more grounds in the country but need funding for sustainability,” the NCS said.

It appealed to Nigerians to engage in healthy lifestyles and also called for more enlightenment of the public.

Resolution

As part of its resolution, the society called for an increase in funding from government and private bodies for cardiovascular care, research, and training, and greater collaboration between the health sector and cardiovascular “stakeholders”.

Other key resolutions of the society are as follows:

· The inclusion of specialised cardiovascular care and services in the National Health Insurance Scheme of Nigeria. This will help in improving access to these services.

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· A call on the federal government to facilitate the implementation of the Cardiovascular Health Policy.

· A greater role of the National Health Insurance scheme towards the funding of cardiovascular care.

· The provision of ECG machines, point-of-care machines and thrombolytic agents such as streptokinase in every emergency room in view of the rising rates of the acute coronary syndrome (heart attack) in Nigeria.

The society thanked President Muhammadu Buhari and the minister of health, for “the integration of non-communicable diseases (hypertension and diabetes) into primary health care programme”.

Over 256 delegates, which comprised of adult cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, paediatric cardiologists, anaesthetists, intensivists, radiologists, cardiovascular nurses, perfusionists, across the country reportedly attended the conference, including local and international partners.

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