- Many Nigerians eat to die – Nutritionist
Irregular medical checkup accelerates loss of lives to silent killers such as hypertension, diabetes, cancer and related ailments that cause sudden death, an expert has warned.
The Chief Medical Director, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Prof. Adewale Oke, who raised the alarm, said shunning regular medical checkup could also reduce life span. He traced the prevalence of the sudden killer, but non-communicable diseases to poor lifestyles, excess salt intake, cigarette smoking, poor exercise, and high cholesterol in the body.
On his part, a general practitioner, Dr. Richard Michael of Brain Medical Centre, Ikeja in Lagos State, explained that irregular medical checkup was one of the major causes of shortened life.
He explained that most people were afraid of the financial implications of medical checkup and the fact that the exercise would reveal ailments and diseases that were earlier unknown to the afflicted.
‘’What they don’t know is that it is the sick people who go to hospital for treatment, while everyone goes for medical checkup. Checkup is only a procedure to treatment.
Michael observed, “According to Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, 40 to 45 per cent of Nigerians do comprehensive medical checkup in a year. This is not encouraging. If you go to the rural areas, they don’t even know anything about medical checkup.
“It is only those who are living in the urban zones that do such a thing and most of them don’t even turn up for it until they have a health issue. That is when they start looking for hospitals to treat them.”
At Orile-Agege General Hospital, Dr. Afolayan Samuel, who explained that some people, who visited the hospital with a complaint of headache mostly never knew that their blood pressure was very high.
When asked whether it is possible for people to be living with silent killer diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and related diseases without their knowledge, Samuel said it was very possible.
Samuel, corroborating what Michael reiterated, “Most Nigerians don’t do routine checkups. We rarely spend on our health. We can spend on our cars and material things, but not on checkup. It is a very bad situation. They (Nigerians) come for checkup when they need to do medical fitness for work during the process of being employed. But normally, no one would voluntarily come for a comprehensive checkup.”
An obstetrics and gyneacology consultant at DE-ELLZ Women, Children Hospital and Crystal Specialist Hospital, Dr. Olanrewaju Ekujumi, said that people lived on assumptions, which was why they administered self-medications.
He said, “People don’t know why they feel very tired and uncomfortable. And this is because they don’t do medical check-up. They just administer drugs on themselves out of ignorance.
“Generally, Nigerians don’t do regular check-up and that’s why people suddenly die. It is not in our culture and attitude to do medical checkup. We believe that what we do not know cannot kill us. Very few do comprehensive medical checkup as people run away from reality. They believe that when they go to church and their pastor prays for them, they are fine. Regular medical checkup prevents sudden deaths.”
The gyneacologist lamented the poor public health system, which may be another major factor why Nigerians were not undergoing regular check-up.
He said, “Our health care system is disorganised unlike those of Western countries where you have the health insurance, you can walk into a hospital and do your check-up and then pay gradually. More so, people are not aware of medical check-up. Government hospitals don’t have time for it. And if people have to go to private hospitals, they pay through their nose.”
A certified nutritionist and weight management consultant, Mrs. Susan Oyemade, highlighted the causes of health hazards to include deficiency in nutrition and pollution.
“Most Nigerians eat to die, rather than eat healthy,” she added and urged people to cultivate healthy habits to be vibrant and happy.
Experts also emphasised that everyone was expected to do a routine/ comprehensive medical checkup twice in a year, that is, every six months.
Some Nigerians, who spoke with our correspondent, explained why they would not go for regular medical checkup. A radio presenter, Mr. Gbenga Samson, said he didn’t go for checkups because he regarded it unnecessary.
“I don’t do medical check-up because I don’t need it. Such medical checkups are based on fear; that is, you are afraid something may be wrong with your body. If I do, it is based on fear,” he said.
As a religious programme presenter, he said he would not live by fear, but by faith.
He added, “I grew up as a sick child, fighting asthma, but I trusted God for healing and He did. On my health, I knew I had to learn to completely trust God, so, I don’t go for medical checkup. I have no problem with using drugs and I believe in medicine, but I don’t believe in looking for what is not lost.”
Mr. Biodun Ojon, who leaves his abode in the early hours of the dayand returns late in the evening, told our correspondent that he couldn’t explain why he hadn’t done a medical checkup despite his desire to do it.
A poultry farmer, Mr. Ayo Babalola, said that he had not been having his checkup despite his daily hectic job.
“I engage in exercises almost every day. More so, doctors could diagnose an ailment that doesn’t exist in your body,” he added.
A missionary, Pastor Ayodele George, said that he had not visited hospital since 2,000 when he went into the ministry.
“I have told God I will work for Him always till I reach the age of 90 without stepping into any hospital and till now, I have not been to hospital since 2000. I only take enough rest whenever I’m tired,” he said.
A resident of an outskirt of Lagos State, who works in Lagos Island, Mr. Oladayo James, gave a similar reason for not going for medical checkup.
He said, “I don’t have the time for checkup. I leave my house very early and return home very late at night every day. Also, if you decide to go to the public health care centre for it, they are likely to delay you, while private hospitals charge you high for it. I use supplements and avoid unnecessary thinking that will increase my blood pressure.”