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Stop the mad rush for overseas treatment – AGHAJI

By Chioma Obinna

Most Nigerians who seek medical treatment abroad really have no business doing so because many of the ailments being taken abroad can be successfully treated in Nigeria. This is the position of the Nigerian Cardiac Society which conducted a survey in 2009 that revealed that the country spends more money on foreign medical trips than on any other sector of the economy.

President of the Society, Prof. Martin Aghaji told Good Health Weekly that the “mad rush” for treatment abroad was unnecessary. “It is a total waste of resources” he said. “It does not work anywhere in the world. It is unacceptable to us. No country has ever survived on foreign medical treatment.

“Nigeria spends more money on foreign medical trips than on any sector of the economy. We did a survey and found out that people who go abroad for medical treatment constitute less than 0.01 percent of the population and that tells that a fraction of the population is consuming so much of our resources and many of them are sponsored by the government while others stay back here either to die or something happens to them. This is not acceptable”.

Further, he called on medical practitioners to network. “Each centre should show what it can offer the public so that there will be cross referrals. There is need to refine the local capability, refine the way the local work force do things, refine way it is done, the way it is going on now, it is madness to spend so much money especially, when most of them are sponsored by the government”.

Speaking in on the theme of the organisation’s 39th Annual General Meeting entitled: “Heart Failure and Co- Morbidities”, Aghaji a Professor of Cardiology, National Hospital Abuja, said heart failure is now one of the commonest causes of death in Nigeria. “We are trying to create awareness on the importance of proper care of the heart. More people die suddenly, it is getting more and more common. Our life styles are now bad. People no longer exercise at all, people move and stay from air-condition to air-condition and this really call for sudden heart diseases.

Chairman, LOC, Dr. Amam Mbakwem said heart failure burden is worse in the Nigerian environment as most patients are relatively young compared to heart failure patients in developed countries. She said the main management of the heart should start from prevention. Noting that hypertension is almost an epidemic in Nigeria, she stressed the need for regular check of the blood pressure even in children noting that the prevalence of hypertension in the country is put at over 20 per cent, which means that out of every 1, 200 Nigerians, about 20 are suffering from hypertension, a major cause of heart failure.


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