The Nigerian Heart Foundation (NHF) has urged governments to be more sensitive to food and drinks Nigerians consume to stem the spate of cardiovascular diseases in Nigeria.
The Executive Director of NHF, Dr Kingsley Akinroye, made the call at a briefing ahead of the foundation’s forthcoming “National Summit on Food, Drinks and Cardiovascular Health in Nigeria: Science, Evidence, Manufacturer and Consumer Advocacy” on Thursday in Lagos.
The summit is slated for March 15 at the Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja.
“Food and drink make us what we are and so, our governments need to be sensitive to the food and drinks Nigerians consume,” he said.
According to Akinroye, the burden and prevalence of cardiovascular diseases are due to inappropriate food and drink consumptions in Nigeria.
“There is no doubt people are catching heart diseases everyday- hypertension, heart attacks, kidney failure, brain diseases, stroke and others.
“Non-Communicable Diseases are a rising cause of morbidity and mortality in the country.
“In Nigeria, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 38.1 per cent (76.2 million) Nigerians are living with hypertension which poses the highest cardiovascular health burden.
“Studies show that since the onset of COVID 19 in Nigeria, people living with Cardiovascular health problems amongst other Non-Communicable Diseases have been significantly affected and died from COVID 19.
“Globally, statistics show that cardiovascular health problems pose a high burden on health systems, an increasing trend that can be controlled by making healthy food choices,” Akinroye said.
The executive director of NHF said that if the government had developed and equipped primary healthcare system across the federation, the need for building Teaching Hospitals would reduce.
Akinroye said that the summit was in recognition of the rising prevalence of cardiovascular disease in Nigeria and the importance of prevention strategies through promotion of healthy diets.
He said that it was also to further the endorsement of the World Health Assembly of the Non-Communicable Diseases Action Plan 2020 – 2030 and recommended promotion of healthy diets by member states, International Partners and Non- Governmental Organisations.
According to him, the objectives of the summit include, awareness on the prevalence of cardiovascular diseases in Nigeria, looking at current data on national and global trends of the impact of food and drinks.
He added that the summit was also to identify intervention measures which could be instituted or are in place as well as to ascertain the roles of the different stakeholders/sectors.
Akinroye said that the summit would proffer solutions to curb the scourge of the adverse effect on the cardiovascular health of Nigerians.
The NHF boss said that the summit would bring together stakeholders from government, international organisations, civil society organisations, private sector, the academia, researches, consumers and manufacturers.
This is with one overriding goal to join hands to create awareness on the importance of food choices on health.
He said that NHF would also bring stakeholders in the field of food, drinks, manufacturing and consumer advocacy together to deliberate and to look at how the health of Nigerians could be improved by making the right choices of what we eat and drink.
“The summit will help advise all stakeholders and all policy makers at the three arms of government on the acceptable best practice to curb the increased health and socio-economic burden caused by dietary choices,” he said.
In her remarks, Mrs Dolapo Coker, Vice Chairman, Technical Committee on the Summit and former President, Nigerians Institute of Food Science and Technology, said: “The science of food is the science of survival.
“Food is primary healthcare. It boosts immunity and has all the nutrients that we need for healthy living.”
Commenting, Dr Enitan Ademuson, Director of Programmes, NHF, said that there would be exhibition of healthy heart products from various partners of the foundation at the summit.
Also speaking, Mr Segun Ajayi-Kadir, Director, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), who was represented by Mr Lekan Edunjobi, said thatthe issue of labelling was critical to MAN to safeguard what people consumed.