By Chioma Obinna
Experts have argued for increase awareness and investment in diagnosis of reflux diseases such as heartburn as a way forward in management of the disorder in Nigeria.
Indicating this position at the formal launch of Garviscon, a reflux suppressant produced by Reckitt Benckiser, a Consultant Gastroenterology from the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, Dr. Charles Onyekwere stressed the need to demystify the management and diagnosis of reflux disease. For him, the major challenge in the management of heartburn-related diseases is unable to recognise the disease in its entirety.
Onyekwere in his lecture tagged; “Reflux Disease: The Therapeutic Challenge”, explained that the aim of management was to properly recognise, avert misdiagnosis and associated complications, ensuring rapid symptom and healing of muscular injuries.
Commending the introduction of Gaviscon into the Nigerian market, he regretted the lack of enough resources to manage reflux disease complications.
“We need a lot more resources to help us cope with the problem of acid reflux,” he stated.
In the view of Associate Professor of Medicine, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Gastroenterology and Liver Unit, Professor Funmilayo Lesi, habits such as indulgence in coffee, kolanuts among others, could predispose individuals to reflux disease.
Lesi who lamented the increasing prevalence of the disorder particularly in pregnant women said a study conducted by medical students show a prevalence of 26.3 per cent and that one in every 10 people has reflux disease.
She said reflux disorders such as GERD do not kill, but have serious impact on productivity and quality of life.
Reflux can presents as chronic cough, sore throat, nocturnal asthma, dental erosion and non-cardiac chest pain.
On Gaviscon, she said: “The drug is an alginate and is a physical defense against reflux, especially in patients who have mild symptoms.
It will stand alone in mild symptoms. In people who have moderate to severe symptoms, it can be used with other drugs like PPIs. It’s safe in pregnancy.
“This drug has strategic advantage in pregnant women and in the management of mild symptoms of reflux disease. It has been shown in studies worldwide that it’s effective. What we want to do now is to conduct a study in Nigeria that it is effective even amongst Nigerians”
In his address, General Manager, Reckitt Benckiser, Mr. Pranshat Pranshant hinted that the organisation is partnering with all stakeholders in the health sector to provide better solutions to patient needs and the community as a whole.
Pranshant explained that partnership with healthcare professionals seeks to make the medical community aware of the prevalence of GERD in Nigeria as well as enable them to identify the correct patient type, teach the right options and reduce the gastrointestinal reflux disorder burden in Nigeria.
Lynd Uwoma said the product is the only true reflux suppressant designed to provide faster, effective and safe relief from heartburn and noted that unlike other products, the drug when consumed penetrates the floor of the stomach from where it forms a strong, long lasting raft in the stomach effectively suppressing reflux into the oesophagus. It rapidly soothes the burning pain of heartburn within 3 minutes.