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Expert call for more research on non-communicable diseases

President of the Nigerian Heart Foundation (NHF), Emeritus Professor Oladipo Akinkugbe has called for more research on non-communicable diseases that will empower for effective strategic planning and finding solutions to the burden of NCDs in Nigeria.

He said this on Thursday in Lagos when the foundation held a national summit in recognition of the rising prevalence of cardiovascular disease in Nigeria and to support the World Health Organisation (WHO) target of reducing heart attack and stroke by 25 per cent through provision of practical tools to prevent CVD.

The summit with the theme ‘Lipids and Cardiovascular health in Nigerian Population’ is in furtherance to the 2013 World Health Assembly which endorsed the NCD Action 2013-2020 and recommended promotion of healthy diets by Member States, international partners and Civil Society Organisations.

Giving his opening remarks, Prof. Oladipo Akinkugbe said, “the objective of the summit is for the NHF to take its pride of place in Africa and issue a consensus statement on the controversial issue of the relationship between lipids and cardiovascular health in the Nigerian population.”

According to him, the situation of palm oil as regards its effect on CVDs has generated global controversy.

“In Nigeria, palm oil is the most commonly used oil at home for cooking, in the urban area 60.5 per cent of adults use palm oil for cooking, in the rural area 90 per cent of the population use palm oil for cooking.”

The don however said, the significant high level of saturated fatty acids in palm oil and its relationship in the Nigerian population needs to be evaluated through scientific evidence.

He said, “the summit encourages more needed research in this area, translating the research into effective individual-population interventions which will go a long way in exchange of relevant information in cardiovascular health, empowering us with tools for effective strategic planning and finding solutions to the burden of NCDs in Nigeria.”

“NCDs like cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, cancer and chronic lung disease are becoming increasingly significant causes of disability and premature death in developing countries like Nigeria, adding that CVD is the leading non-communicable disease in Nigeria,” he said.

Globally, Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs), primarily cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes are responsible for 63 per cent of all deaths worldwide (36 million out of 57 million global deaths).

In Nigeria, NCDs accounted for 27 per cent of the total deaths in 2008.

In his keynote address, the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole who was represented by the Director General of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research(NIMR) said, It is well documented that unhealthy diet, tobacco use, harmful alcohol intake and physical inactivity are the major clustering risk factors for the development of cardiovascular and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

These risk factors, according to him,  “are aggravated by poor awareness, harmful cultural practices, beliefs and misconceptions by the public. The population now consumes excess red meat, saturated fat, salts, refined sugars and drinks. There is observed inadequate intake of fibre-rich food, vegetables and fruits in the population.

“The current burden of NCDs will increase unless we sharpen our strategies. We need robust collaboration to deliver quality, affordable, accessible and accetable health services to Nigerians. We need to strengthen our NCD surveillance system.”

He said, the government through the Federal Ministry of Health has made some progress since the establishment of NCD Control programme in 1989.

He however called on the Federal Ministry of Agriculture; Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment; Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON); Consumers Protection Council; Nigeria Customs Service; Manufacturers of Vegetable oils and other stakeholders to be part of the campaign for healthy lifestyles.

Others at the summit are Director, NCD, FMoH, Dr Anthony Usoro, Prof. Akin Osibogun, Prof. Tola Atinmo, among others.

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