Prof Onybuchi Chukwu
• NMA wants public holidays for health checks
By Patrick Ugeh and Adibe Emenyonu
As the world marks this year’s World health Day today, Nigerian Medical Students Association (NIMSA) has called for reforms that would overhaul the health system in a more holistic approach through shared responsibilities which recognises the important role of individuals and communities.
The association also said there was need for collaborative partnership as the best form of achieving a national health coverage in such a manner that private companies would partner with governments at all levels by providing the needed infrastructural deficit in the country in order to improve public health.
The call came as the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) called for the declaration of two-day public holidays yearly for health check-up for all Nigerians.
It also said that between a staggering 20,088,000 and 56,376,000 Nigerian citizens are hypertensive.
A statement issued yesterday in Abuja by NMA president, Dr. Osahon Enabulele, to commemorate the World Health Day observed every 7th of April, said “To promote healthy lifestyles and combat the rise of cases of hypertension, the Nigerian Medical Association calls on the Federal Government of Nigeria and all State and Local Governments in Nigeria to declare one public holiday/free day of Health check-up for all Nigerians every six months, with effective measures and incentives put in place to encourage compliance.”
Speaking during an interactive session with journalists yesterday in Benin City, capital of Edo State, President of NIMSA, Bashiru Mohammed Maru, said the call to overhaul the health system became necessary because of the alarming rate of maternal death in Nigeria and other ailments such as high blood pressure and hypertension.
This, he said, is attributable to lack of proper medical services, adding that maternal mortality rate in the country has risen to about 608 per cent per 100,000 live births; while under-five and infant mortality rates registered a tremendous increase between 2007-2011, just as 75 per cent of the world hypertensive population will be in developing countries by 2025.
He also said multiple indicator survey [mics] indicate an increase pattern which stands at 138 deaths per 1,000 live birth in 2007, 157 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2008 and 172 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2011, and 22 per cent population .
“Many of these deaths are due to both preventable and treatable causes ranging from malaria; measles, diarrhoea, pneumonia and malnutrition as Nigeria remain the only African country with the lowest vaccination rate,” he said.
Maru, who was flanked by other executive members of NIMSA, said the theme of this year’s celebration: “High Blood Pressure” is an ailment regarded currently as the world’s main killer disease as it claims 63 per cent of all deaths.
He noted that the theme is apt and timely because presently, High Blood Pressure constitutes 80 per cent of deaths resulting from non-communicable diseases which occur in low and middle income countries.
Maru further said a combined prevalence [male and female] put Nigeria at 22 per cent population at risk according to a research study conducted because it does not give signs and symptoms like other ailments.
Saying that more of the male population are prone to HBP and hypertension [silent killer] than men, the NIMS president advocated for increase in salt intake and balanced dies as a counter.