By Chioma Obinna
As Nigeria joined the rest of the World to mark this year’s World Heart Day with the theme; “Climate Change and Health Inequality, a Deadly mix for the Most Vulnerable”, experts have decried the increasing number of deaths from cardiovascular diseases, lamenting that 25 per cent of cardiovascular disease-related deaths are caused by climate change and air pollution.
Briefing journalists in Lagos during a press conference by the Nigerian Heart Foundation, NHF, to commemorate the Day, Member, NHF, Nutrition Committee, Mrs Dolapo Coker said 80 per cent of premature deaths from heart diseases can be prevented if tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, harmful use of alcohol and air pollution are controlled.
Coker who stressed the need for the Nigerian government to begin to address carbon emissions as part of efforts to reduce cardiovascular diseases said climate change and air pollution complications claim seven million people annually.
Coker, a former President of the Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology, noted that heart diseases also claim 18.6 million lives every year.
“The Year 2022 has seen historic heat waves and, with climate change disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable populations, we can expect a further widening of the gap in global cardiovascular healthcare equity.”
She added that working hand in hand with the World Health Organisation, WHO, WHF was calling on governments, civil society, and global industry to meet net-zero targets, tackle global warming and curb air pollution, and deliver healthcare access for all.
“A new global survey by WHF highlights the global concern surrounding the link between climate change and cardiovascular disease with climate change and air pollution ranked as the third most serious issue about cardiovascular health among the respondents. The survey also revealed that awareness of healthcare inequality is growing.
“WHF is also urging healthcare providers to help improve cardiovascular health and prevent CVD mortality by issuing regular reminders to at-risk groups about the dangers of extreme weather events, including tips on managing excessive heat events.”
Speaking, the Chief Executive Officer, I- Fitness, Mr Foluso Ogunwale, lamented the prevalence of harmful lifestyles and physical inactivity among many Nigerians.
“If the heart is that important, it means that at one point we need to match the brake and examine how we live over lives so that we can perhaps live a happy and healthier life. The issue of physical health, physical exercise, and the issue of nutrition and harmful lifestyles that potentially cause heart diseases can be addressed.”
In her keynote address, the wife of Lagos State Governor, Dr Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu stressed the need for people to desist from unhealthy lifestyles to build a healthy population which in turn would enhance productivity.
Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by a member of the Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials, Mrs Patience Ogunnubi added that the increase in the statistics of cardiovascular disease calls for a comprehensive approach and strategy to ensure that people were aware of the serious threat that the disease posed.
The wife of the Governor stressed that Nigerians must embrace deliberate lifestyles and choices that can help to address the trend.
On his part, the representative of Quest Oil Group and the Corporate Communications and Branding Manager, Mr Gerald Moore said that the issue of heart health was a concern to the company and pledged their commitment to addressing carbon emissions to reduce heart disease risks.
“For us at Quest Oil, we believe that good health is good business and that is why we innovatively changed the energy mix that we provide our customers. We now have different systems that can change from fuel to gas. We have gas as our transition fuel. We also provide LPG which is a cleaner fuel.
“We also started something innovative in our station, which is to replace the existing fuel generators with a solar power system. We believe that will significantly reduce the carbon emissions and give our stakeholders the opportunity for better health.’
Reeling out activities to mark World Health Month, the Communication Director NHF, Mr Abiola Awe said the foundation in collaboration with other partners will be organizing a ‘bike a Heart Route (cycling rides), medical health talks and check, walks, mini health exhibitions, distribution of fliers and heart fitness exercise.