Martins Ifijeh
A private medical practitioner in Ibadan, Dr. Rukayat Akande, has stated that there is high morbidity and mortality rate among poor Nigerians suffering from one form of Non Communicable Disease (NCD) or the other because it is increasingly difficult for them to bear the cost of treatment.
She said Nigeria as a developing country lacks adequate health facilities and even where these exist, majority of the people are unable to afford healthcare, hence the need to avoid the modifiable risk factors of the diseases as the key to ensuring increased standard of living across board.
Speaking with THISDAY, she said; “while the government cannot afford to bear the full brunt of expenses of everyone’s healthcare, the public cannot afford full healthcare too, leaving a gap that is difficult to bridge, as the masses continue to suffer in silence.
“Much emphasis is placed on prompt management of infectious disease due to the fear of its contagious nature but amazingly, non-communicable diseases account for the death of 40 million people each year worldwide, according to WHO as at April 2017. Three quarters of these deaths occur in low and middle-income countries too. Developed nations have the wherewithal to cater for people living with these diseases hence, lengthening their lifespan unlike in developing countries like Nigeria.”
Akande said there has been a rise in the incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Nigeria in recent times. This, she said coupled with the country’s dauntingly high level of infectious diseases, makes the poor health in the country go downslide.
“NCDs are diseases that are not infectious (not passed from one person to another). They are chronic diseases, that is, they are of long duration. Examples of these diseases include diabetes, cancers, cardiovascular diseases like heart attack and stroke as well as chronic respiratory diseases like asthma. Risk factors for these life threatening diseases include obesity, raised blood pressure, tobacco use and alcohol consumption amongst others.
“NCDs are closely linked to reduced quality of life and as such reduced productivity, which plummets further the country’s economy. This implies that the burden of NCDs is even more worrisome as Nigeria is a country still battling with infectious diseases and a poor economy. It hence becomes a cycle of increasing poverty. In the situation where the burden of the disease is more than can be successfully borne, emphasis should be placed on preventing these diseases,” she added.
According to her, prevention of NCDs includes avoiding unhealthy diet, avoiding physical inactivity, avoiding cigarette smoking and drinking of alcohol. Early visit to the hospital to complain about ailments and regular hospital visits for general medical fitness tests also helps increase the detection of these diseases and as such increase the frequency of early treatment which eventually improves the outlook of the disease.