Chronic diseases also referred to as Non-Communicable Diseases has been on a fast and steady rise in Nigeria as we are winning the war against the prevalence of many infectious or Communicable Diseases. Experts say NCDs are the leading causes of death worldwide.
These Chronic diseases include heart/cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes, chronic kidney and respiratory diseases and are responsible for the majority of NCD-related illnesses and deaths in Nigeria.
The National Cancer Prevention Programme reeled out a frightening statistics that indicates that no fewer than 80,000 Nigerians die from various forms of cancer annually.
The World Health Organisation and the International Diabetes Federation report of 2014, says there were 3.9 million Nigerians who were diabetic.
The recent report by Stephen James Stroke Centre of Excellence in Abuja indicates that 168 people die of stroke daily in Nigeria, while 18 stroke cases are recorded every hour.
It also indicates that Nigeria records 160,000 cases of stroke annually and that is indeed, worrisome. It underscores the seriousness of the problem of hypertension and the endemic nature of chronic diseases. Its also on record according to Dr. Ebun Bamgboye, the President of the Nigeria Association of Nephrology and Chief Medical Director of St. Nicholas Hospital, Lagos, that 36.8 million Nigerians (23 per cent) are suffering from various stages of kidney/renal disease in Nigeria.
As funny as it may sound, though the low income earners or the poor in the society are also affected, the wealthy or people perceived to be the rich in the society, who can afford to buy extra lives if possible and can afford the best of medical check-up and treatment in the best of health facilities around the world are most hit. And One begins to wonder why this trend?
Left for me I feel it is because the rich can afford to eat foods that cause high blood pressure and high cholesterol every day. Obesity, related to diet, is one major issue why affluent Nigerians are dying. Also the affluence that comes with political offices in Nigeria is alarming. For instance, a man who used to be slim will suddenly become fat after taking up a political appointment.”
“He will suddenly start drinking more alcohol and eating westernised foods that encourage weight gain. They have chefs, drivers and others employed to do everything for them. They are not tasking themselves physically and the result is weight gain and the accompanying heart attack and sudden death.”
Prof. Ignatius Onimawo, a Professor of Human Nutrition at the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State, says almost half of all deaths attributable to NCDs have nutrition as the predominant risk factor. Nutrition is the process of providing food necessary for health, growth and wellbeing; it plays a significant role in the quality of life and longevity.
“Obesity comes with increased risk of chronic diseases and causes death such as hypertension, stroke, coronary heart disease, Type-2 diabetes, mental illness such as depression, breakdown of cartilage and bone within the joint and some cancers.
“The working class and the wealthy in Nigeria consider eating outside as trending and as such, people of limited resources also tend to follow the emerging trend. These trends cause overweight, which is a risk factor for diabetes mellitus, hypertension, coronary heart diseases, renal disease and cancer.”
Thus, an increasingly obese population will bear the increased burden of these chronic diseases. But one-third of these diseases can be prevented through lifestyle modification by eating healthily, maintaining normal weight, and exercising throughout life, avoid tobacco use and consumption of alcohol to address disease prevention, control risk factors and sustain good health.
This article is not to make the poor feel good about their lifestyles as negative life styles doesn’t come with just money, because while the wealthy spend their big money on luxurious lifestyles that destroys their health the poor or middle class also spend their money on junks and some other things that deposits free radicals into their systems and unlike the rich they can’t afford to control it when the illnesses starts.
The burden of NCDs is on the rise in Nigeria due to various forces of globalization, even though most of its predisposing factors can be curtailed by behavioural modification. Although much is known about the policies for controlling its consequences, little is advanced on how to translate such policies to culturally acceptable practicalities. The major contributors to the risks for NCDs have been clearly recognized as tobacco and alcohol usage, sedentary lifestyle, poor eating habits associated with the consumption of foods containing excess fat, salt, and sugar. These factors work together to result in NCDs; hence, it is pertinent to tract the burden of these risk factors and this is for both the rich and the poor.
Healthy lifestyle should be encouraged and nutritional medicine should be encouraged more than the conventional medicine.
This is a wakeup call to everyone; we don’t need to treat CHRONIC ILLNESS as they can be prevented.
Have your health checked and start LIVING RIGHT now. Healthy living is a lifestyle not a routine check.
Author: Kelvin Ozorah