President and Chief Executive Officer, Tristate Heart and Vascular Centre, Babcock University Hospital, Ilisha-Remo, Ogun State, Professor Kamar Adeleke has asked the Federal Government to prioritise awareness creation and access to treatment of cardiovascular disease, the major cause of deaths in adults, to boost the country’s life expectancy.
Adeleke who spoke at a media facility tour to the Centre in Babcock University, Ilishan Remo, Ogun State, said that the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease, include heart problems, were factors that ensured countries like USA and Cuba had a life expectancy of 80 and 78.7 years, respectively.
Adeleke, saying that Nigerians need not travel abroad to treat heart conditions since the centre now carries out such treatments on a daily basis, declared that the centre was also opening five more centres across Nigeria to further boost access to care of these conditions.
According to him, “Nigerians need to know that we have these facilities and that people need not die from cardiovascular conditions. Now, only few Nigerians can travel abroad to get treated.”
The expert, noting that prevention of cardiovascular disease was key rather than its treatment, said “people need to know of this number one killer; it is very common.”
According to him, “one of its strongest drivers is undiagnosed and untreated hypertension, which affects nearly one in two Africans over the age of 25.”
Adeleke assured that facilities at the centre were state of the art, adding that the centre had achieved 98 per cent success rate in all the surgeries it did.
While the centre had provided subsidised or free treatment in the past, he said its sustainability now requires that people pay fully for their treatment.
For those that couldn’t afford the cost of treatment, he said the Tristate Heart Foundation had been established, with its mandate including fund raising to augment payments for treatment of indigent patients and awareness creation on cardiovascular diseases in the community.
Dr Tosin Majekodunmi, a paediatric and adult congenital cardiologist with the centre stated that 75 open heart surgeries had been performed by the Centre since January, 2014.
He added that hole-in-the heart was a major heart problem in children while blocked blood vessels and bad valves in of the heart were the biggest problems in adults.
Majekodunmi declared that currently in Nigeria, bad heart valves are only reparable at the centre.
Chief Operating Officer, Tristate Heart and Vascular Centre, Dr Olukunle Iyanda, noting that cost of treatment at the centre was same with that in countries like India, urged for government policies to ensure sustainability of cardiac care in Nigeria.
That government could reverse medical tourism, he said, would require creating an enabling environment for organisations like Tristate Heart and Vascular Centre that had shown their commitment and competency to thrive.
According to Dr Iyanda, such things as payment of withholding tax when services are rendered to government establishment should only be applicable to construction firms.
He also urged that the government ensure health insurance cover all Nigerians, adding when funds are pulled together; it brings down the cost of heart treatment.