By Olayinka Adelowo and Oluwatumininu Adetoro, Lagos
Just as the country is not left out in the scourge of the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the world, there comes yet a prediction of another pandemic that is likely to hit the nation in the coming years.
The prediction says by 2031, Nigeria will have a pandemic of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) which will stem from rapid urbanization and westernization of lifestyle and dietary habits. Lagos State, the epicentre of the country’s commercial activities and a multi-ethnic society, is likely to experience the worst bout of the pandemic as a result of the rapid social and lifestyle changes of its industrialised-urban society. Nigeria will no doubt suffer a greater burden of these diseases compared to other developed nations because of her limited healthcare facilities and poor health system.
According to the global status report on non communicable diseases by W.H.O., 28 million people around the world die of avoidable NCDs, 16 million of these people come from low and middle income countries like Nigeria, taking in its wake a sizeable number of productive and working citizens.
In a research report conducted by NAIJAHEALTH Initiative supported by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine led by Dr Israel Oluwaseyidayo Idris, Public Health Expert and Medical Epidemiologist; and Dr Ayodipupo Sikiru Oguntade, a Cardiologist and Medical Epidemiologist; shows that for many years, public health policies in Nigeria have focused on the control of infectious diseases, with shortage of necessary data for policy making as it concerns the non communicable diseases.
According to the Idris et.al 2020 report by Naijahealth on the prevalence of the Non Communicable Diseases in Urban Communities in Lagos, it stated that apart from the common or most prevalent NCD’s risk factor – hypertension – there is a sharp rise of dyslipidemia cases in Nigeria. Dyslipidaemia which usually co-exists with obesity. Meanwhile, both are important in the pathway to hypertension and athero-sclerotic vascular disease.
Experts have concluded from their findings that If urgent and evidence-based policies are not made to curtail the trend and if attention is not paid to these diseases in Nigerian communities, then, the nation is ready for more economic and health crises as well as increase in poverty rate. This is as a result of the fact that these health challenges contribute to economic losses, household poverty and reduction in productivity.
In order to prevent the rise of these diseases, it is believed that health promotion and education in the community and primary care settings geared towards human acts such as smoking cessation, increased daily physical exercises and healthy diet would play critical roles in preventing these heart-related diseases in Nigeria.