Report: More Nigerians Will Die of Cancer, Stroke than Malaria, HIV by 2023

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*FG under pressure to review residency training

Paul Obi and Peter Omale in Abuja
A new report entitled: ‘Dissemination of Research Findings Programme Agenda and Analysis of Non-Communicable Diseases Prevention Policies in Africa’ inaugurated by African health scientists said deaths from non-communicable diseases, particularly, cancer, stroke, diabetes, hypertension among others will increase in Nigeria in the next seven years.

 A Think-tank group, conducting research on policies for the prevention of diseases in Nigeria and Africa, said in Abuja yesterday that “the diseases will kill more than malaria and HIV that were previously feared for having higher casualties.”

It argued that the situation remains dicey as Nigeria does “not have a strong health system that could actually absorb and treat people very well,” advising that “people should desist from lifestyles that encourage the diseases.”

Leader of the group and Professor of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Prof Oladimeji Oladepo, enumerated lifestyles that promote cancer and stroke conditions to include alcohol intake, consumption of tobacco products, lack of regular exercise and poor nutrition.

He said: “Non-communicable diseases are becoming a set of diseases that kill people, probably more than malaria and HIV put together. I think within the next seven years, this is going to happen. We have the evidence of the rise in incidence and prevalence of the diseases.
“The diseases include cardiovascular disease and stroke; we talking about type 2 diabetes and hypertension.”

 Oladepo added that “cancer is one of the diseases that we have its incidences rising. For example, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), we have over 800,000 cases of new cancers that occurred in 2008 in Nigeria.

“We also know that in Nigeria, we have tsunami of consumption of alcohol, and a toxic combination of tobacco use and alcohol is highly prevalent in Nigeria. So, within the next few years, we are already seeing an increase in the number of people having non-communicable diseases.”

Director, Public Health Department, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Evelyn Ngige, who was represented by the National Coordinator, Non-Communicable Diseases, Dr. Nnena Ezeigwe, blame the prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) on globalisation and industrialisation festering on Nigeria for so many years.

According to Ezeigwe, globalisation and industrialisation have not only brought about development but have also imposed new lifestyles and risky behaviours such as unhealthy nutrition, overweight and obesity, lack of physical activity, harmful or excessive alcohol intake and use of tobacco upon people.

“These have consequently led to increased incidence of NCDs, especially heart disease, stroke, cancer, chronic respiratory disease, and diabetes, contributing significantly to social, economic, and health consequences.

“NCDs are virtually without a cure, extremely expensive to treat and notorious for causing debilitation, discomfort, morbidity, disability and premature deaths. There is therefore, a need to address its growing trend,” she added.
Meanwhile, the federal government has said it is under intense pressure to review the residency training programme.

Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has received the report on ‘Restructuring Residency Training Programme’ from the ministerial committee inaugurated by the government in May this year to appraise the previous committee’s reports on the Residency Training Programme and recommend a sustainable uniform system.

The report was presented by the Chairman of the Committee, Prof. Wole Atoyebi, the Registrar of National Post-Graduate Medical Collage of Nigeria.

Receiving the report, Adewole said: “We will make copies and circulate it so that those who want to make comments can put it across; I can assure you that by next week, we would take decision on it, it is not something that would waste away; it will also not gather dust, we are under pressure but we also have responsibility for the future of the health system. The trainees are quite critical to the delivery of healthcare, so we can’t do away with them,” he said.