Behold, sudden deaths rate soars
But for the fact that we still live in a society where authorities and most people still dismiss curiosities such as rise in sudden deaths rate as a divine occurrence, the issue would have become a matter of urgent national issue in the country. Indeed, cases of sudden deaths are rampart but we just sympathise with families of victims and wait for the news of next victims. This is quite worrisome and here is why.
Generally, non-communicable diseases usually are not at the front burner because of the low risk perception of their implications for life expectancy. However, evidence from expert studies suggests that close to half of deaths are traceable to non-communicable diseases. For instance, a recent revelation by experts linking over 44 per cent of deaths to hypertension should put all citizens on red alert because implicitly, it is a very deadly disease. Unfortunately, not many people are aware of the potential danger because it is a non-communicable disease. Consequently, hypertension remains a public health issue that should be urgently addressed by the authorities concerned.
Currently, as available data have shown, the prevalence of hypertension in Nigeria is about 30-45 per cent, hence sudden death is now common. Hypertension is an asymptomatic disease and a recent national survey gave a total of 13,591 Nigerians – 44.9 per cent prevalence. According to a Consultant Anatomic Pathologist, Dr. Francis Faduyile, who just spoke to the concern, sudden death represents 9.5 per cent of all deaths over a six-year period at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH).
On the demography of the cases of hypertension, Dr. Faduyile stated that males are more affected than females and hypertension peaks at the 5th and 6th decades of life. Lamenting the situation, he said that hypertension accounted for 44 per cent of all Brought In Deaths (BID) with a mean age of 52+_. So, hypertension is one of the causes of sudden deaths, which rip people’s lives apart because of the socio-economic implications as the ages affected are usually the active workforce. Unfortunately, the disease remains latent and undiagnosed in many sufferers. What is responsible for this situation?
In Nigeria, lack of research, genetic factors, denial, life style and poor public enlightenment are among factors that compound the challenge of hypertension. Hence, the need to embrace healthy living by adopting appropriate lifestyle and necessary precautionary measures becomes imperative. Specifically, it is important to seek and listen to counsel and take proactive action, in this connection.
To reduce the prevalence of hypertension, experts recommend prevention hinged on individual attitudinal changes instead of cure. They also suggest regular blood pressure check, stress management, regular exercise, four to five hours of rest daily, guarding against obesity, proper and prompt treatment of asthmatic attack, improved maternal health, adoption of healthy living and other precautionary practices such as going on holidays.
Furthermore, the government should see disease control as an essential component of the package for social and economic development, as well as an instrument of social justice and national security.
So, it is the social responsibility of governments at all levels to rise up to the occasion by partnering with the relevant professional bodies to come up with policies and programmes to improve the health of citizens. There is no doubt that this will also enhance the wealth of the people. Authorities in the country thus have a responsibility to note that although most people may be helpless at the moment, they are aware that this responsibility is part of the social contract with the people of Nigeria.
Similarly, employers in the country should ensure regular health check for their workforce, for early detection and management of hypertension. They should also ensure improved uptake of annual leave, which is said to help reduce distress, as such a preventive measure. Therefore, human resources managers in all sectors of the economy should always discourage employees’ preference for monetisation of annual leave. Applicants for (monetisation) should be told about the implications of their choices. Good health is wealth! And this truth should not be compromised.
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