With their years of academic experience, doctors are well grounded in diseases and preventive measures against them.
From the wealth of that experience, medical professionals have advised on different ailments fast claiming Nigerians and how to prevent them in these interviews with ENCOMIUM Weekly…
‘The best way to manage stress is having enough rest’ -DR. ROSE AKINWEKOMI, general practitioner
Would you say the death rate in Nigeria is high?
Yes, we can say it is, considering that the life expectancy in the country is low.
What are the most common causes of death?
The first, I would say is malaria. It seems so common but it is killing a lot of people. Yet it is not taken seriously. Most people handle malaria casually. Sometimes when people have symptoms like fever or headache, they don’t treat it, but go about their daily activities as normal. And before they come seeking treatment, it may have knocked them down, and may be too late.
Apart from malaria, another sickness that kills a lot of people is hypertension. This year alone, it has killed a lot of people. And that’s because people don’t look after themselves and do not take advantage of things like the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
In addition, people do not like visiting hospitals. When they feel sick, they instead go to the chemist shop. Hypertension is one of the most common killers, but the most common is malaria.
What role does stress play in hypertension developing?
Some believe that stress and hypertension are linked. That’s to an extent, because of ten people are stressed, only one or two will come down with hypertension. Hypertension is more of genetic than linked to stress.
What is the best way to manage stress?
The best way to manage stress is having enough rest. That is the most effective way. When you are stressed, it makes you generally weak and unproductive. Your brain, your body cannot function at their best when you are stressed.
Why is malaria a big killer despite the relative ease in assessing treatment?
That’s because of our environment. The environment is usually very dirty, with bushes and water logged. This helps mosquitoes to breed, and as long as they breed, you’d be infected. Imagine treating malaria and two weeks later, you feel the symptoms again. You won’t even be motivated to seek treatment, except you are very mindful of your health. And once you don’t treat it early, it would worsen and break you down.
On the part of the people, what should be done to curb this?
Before we can talk about mosquitoes, treated nets which are important, we need to take care of our immediate surroundings. It should be kept clean. Dirty water should be kept away. Also, using mosquito treated nets and going for regular checkups.
And on the part of the government?
I heard in those days, they used to do mass fumigation, I think that could help. They have subsidized malaria drugs, and that’s a plus.
Is it strictly a Nigerian thing?
I won’t say it’s a strictly Nigerian thing. But I think it is quite high here. I don’t really know about other countries.
‘Once you know what is causing what, you will probably get better’ -A.O AZZUN, family physician
Would you say the death rate in Nigeria in high?
Relatively, compared to some other countries.
What ailments account for most deaths?
You can’t put it like that. Cause of death is usually more encompassing than just disease. Lifestyle, hygiene, ignorance, poor facilities plus diseases result in many deaths. It’s not just diseases. Talking about classifying those that are dying, we look at children, women and adults generally. When it comes to children for those under five, malaria is the biggest killer. For women, maternal mortality is high. A lot of women die during child delivery.
In adults generally, diseases such as diabetes, hypertension leading to stroke or heart failure, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases like HIV/AIDs are the big killers.
What are the preventive measures that can be taken against them?
For children under five, you use insecticide treated nets. Also, if a child is running fever (that is high body temperature), the child should be taken to a hospital for a test and treated accordingly. For women, preventing maternal mortality is by attending antenatal regularly. During antenatal, checks are carried out for blood sugar, the urine is monitored and stuff like that. That way, you can predict the delivery and how it would turn out with proper care during antenatal. On the part of the health care providers, you must continually go for medical training. That way, you are more capable of sorting out complicated cases during delivery. You can know where to draw the line and maybe opt for a Caesarian Section (CS) or vertex delivery. When it comes to infections like tuberculosis for example, if someone has been coughing for about a month, such person should go to the hospital for thorough screening. The bottom-line is once you know what is causing what, you will probably get better. The chances of death will be reduced. The government should also make drugs available, accessible and affordable.
How about hypertension?
If you go to a hospital and it’s detected early and you can afford, then alter your lifestyle accordingly, the blood pressure will be controlled. If this is done, deaths resulting from hypertension will be minimal. Same goes for diabetes, cancer, liver and kidney infections.
Despite the fact that those information are readily available, why do we still record many deaths?
You can take a horse to the stream, but you can’t force it to drink. The African belief system is affecting us a great deal. Our culture has always believed that someone is the reason you are not making progress. They believe it’s either an uncle or an aunt, neighbour or mother-in-law is behind the ailment. And once your mind has accepted that, you won’t seek proper help. All we can do is to educate and keep re-educating people, and hopefully that generation of African will rise that will embrace information.
Interviews by MICHAEL NWOKIKE