World Heart Day: Thousands continue to die of heart disease, despite government’s increasing budget

HEART diseases, or cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), are the number one cause of death globally, according to a recent WHO global status report on non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

The WHO report has shown consistently that cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death, amidst all other non-communicable diseases. The 2018  WHO fact sheet on this disease shows that about 17.9 million people died from CVDs in 2016, representing 31 per cent of all global deaths.

It added that more than three-quarters of CVD deaths take place in low and middle -income countries, where Nigeria is grouped for the latter.

The case of heart diseases in Nigeria is captured in the global report. Not fewer than 150, 000 Nigerians die annually as a result of heart disease, according to the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole in his speech during the 2017 World Heart Day. He said the number is expected to increase to 23 million by the year 2030 if adequate measures are not taken.

Since 2015, about 1.1 billion Naira was provided in the budget to support the treatment of heart diseases. The purchase of open heart surgery equipment and medical consumables have been constant. The 2018 budget only is more than the other three years budget when added together.

In 2018, nearly N700 million is budgeted to support heart diseases, while a total of N157 million, was budgeted for NCD research. Therefore, a total of N857 million is made available by the federal ministry of health to support heart-related diseases. A total of  N54 million, 21million, and 220 million was the budget for 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively.

Nevertheless, with the resources spent by the Federal government every year, heart diseases are said to be on the rise in Nigeria as stated by the health minister.

The  national strategic plan  of action on prevention and control of non-communicable diseases, heart disease inclusive, was adopted in September, 2015. Three years after, there is no report or evidence that the plans if active are yielding results.  The national strategic plan has nine essential NCDs targets, addressing heart diseases. The targets which were adopted in 2015 are to be achieved in the year 2025.

  1. Premature mortality from NCDs is 25 per cent relative reduction in overall mortality from cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, or chronic respiratory diseases.
  2. Tobacco: 30 per cent relative reduction in the prevalence of current tobacco use
  3. Alcohol: 10 per cent relative reduction in overall alcohol consumption (including hazardous and harmful drinking).
  4. Physical inactivity: 10 per cent relative reduction in the prevalence of insufficient physical activity.
  5. Dietary salt intake: 30 per cent relative reduction in mean adult (aged ≥18) population intake of salt, with aim of achieving the recommended level of <5g per day.
  6. Raised Blood Pressure: 25% relative reduction in Raised blood pressure prevalence of raised blood pressure.
  7. Diabetes, Obesity and Sickle Cell Disease: Halt the rise in the prevalence of diabetes, obesity and sickle cell disease.
  8. Drug therapy to prevent heart attacks and strokes: 50% of eligible people receive drug therapy to prevent heart attacks and strokes, and counselling.
  9. Essential NCD medicines and basic technologies to detect and treat major NCDs: 80% availability of basic technologies and generic essential medicines required to treat major NCDs in both public and private facilities.

In a bid to reduce the prevalence of tobacco usage, the federal government has introduced policies and regulations which included an implementation of a new excise duty rate on tobacco this year.

However, there is no evidence that these measures have curbed the rate at which people take tobacco or related products in the country.

The tobacco atlas estimated that more than 3.5 million Nigerian adults (15+ years old) use tobacco each day, while 25000 children between 10-14 years old are exposed to tobacco use daily.

    Another lifestyle that allows for a more cardiovascular disease is the physical inactivity among Nigerians.

    The health minister revealed that 34 per cent of the adult population in Nigeria live with high blood pressure especially cardiovascular heart disease before the age of 50 and the number is said to be on the increase as a result of poor diet, the absence of healthy lifestyle, lack of exercise, and others.

    “Nigerians must imbibe and appreciate the importance of physical activities such as exercise, as it relieves stress and controls weight,” he said last year.

    Yet no national physical activity plan exists for Nigeria, according to research published on Pan African journal.

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