ABUJA - Health experts say Nigeria is seeing increasing cases of heart disease. Low awareness, lack of adequate medical facilities and expertise are major factors worsening the situation in the country. But a non profit is collaborating with the World Heart Federation to provide proper education and treatment for underprivileged patients.
Participants chat at an awareness and fundraising event to mark World Heart Day in Abuja, the Nigerian capital.
The program is organized by the non-profit, Global Development and Charity Support Foundation in collaboration with the World Heart Federation.
Head of the non profit, Samuel Asomugha says apart from educating locals on the early signs of heart disease, his organization is making funds available to treat patients.
"When you have a healthy heart, then you can lead a healthy life, then a lot of these health and heart related mortalities can be avoided," he said.
The non-profit targets about 1,000 patients for treatment.
A 2018 WHO country profile reveals cardiovascular diseases is the leading cause of deaths among non-communicable diseases in Nigeria with over 11 percent prevalence.
"Whichever heart disease you want to look at, whether it's heart failure, whether it's coronary artery disease, the incidence of patients who are coming forward to hospital is on the rise," says cardiologist Dauda Balami.
Congenital heart deformities in children are also on the rise.
Nnamdi Azubuike's one-year-old child was diagnosed with a heart condition in 2015.
"We found out that he was not breathing very well, so we went to the hospital and after the analysis, then a doctor now told us that he's having a hole in his heart," said Azubuike.
Heart related conditions often require tertiary level care and sophisticated surgeries but Nigeria lacks medical facilities and the expertise needed.
Paediatrician and cardiologist Tolu Utele, admits the situation is serious.
"It is almost like a death sentence for children that are born with these heart defects, all we do in most places is to manage them until they die and many of them actually end up dying," said Utele.
As talks around heart issues continue in Nigeria, citizens, nonprofits and many with conditions hope things get better.