Hypertension, major cause of death among Lagosians in the past six years, says forensic pathologist

professor of Forensic Pathology at the Lagos State University College of Medicine, John Obafunwa, has said that hypertension has been the major cause of death among residents in Lagos State in the last six years.

He disclosed this in a chat with our correspondent in Lagos.

According to Obafunwa, who is also a former chief medical examiner of the state, from the data gathered by the Forensic Department between 2010 and 2015, 40 per cent out of the cases involved people who were brought in dead and when anaylsed, 43 per cent of them suffered from heart-related conditions.

This, he said, was followed by road traffic accidents, which is 24 per cent and homicides either by using force, clubbing or stabbing and gunshot wounds, which makes 22 per cent of the total cases during this period.

“Hypertension related death, either stroke or heart failure, is more in the last six years, but we have fewer cases of drowning, intestinal problems or tuberculosis,” Obafunwa said.

He said the incidence of cancer or other infections are quite low.

“With regards to cancer, we occasionally see breast cancer, intestinal or bowel cancers, cancer of the cervix and a number of prostate cancers, but not as many as heart-related diseases,” the don said.

He added that in the past, the state used to have high rate of autopsy, which helped to identify more causes of deaths among the people, but that has reduced because the state government was no more enforcing the Corona Law, which was signed into law in 2007.

Obafunwa, who is also a Consultant Pathologist, to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, Lagos, disclosed that in 2008 the state had about 8000 autopsy, which gradually dwindled to 800 from about 3000 deaths, as at last year, because of the non-enforcement of the Corona law.

He added that if the state had taken the corona law seriously and had maintained the records of ten years ago, that would have given the Pathology Department good figures to play around with regarding  getting more causes of death in the state.

Obafunwa said, “The state Ministry of Health, through the pathology unit, need to show the pattern we are having. What are the common causes? What sort of health advice should be given to the populace? But unfortunately, the non-enforcement of the Corona law is having a great impact.

“I will say we are even lucky in Lagos State, we did about 800 cases last year. I can tell you to go to the nearer teaching hospitals, Ibadan, maybe autopsy rate is about 80 or 60 by the time you go to the East we probably have like 30 or 40 and by the time you go up North maybe you are dealing with 10 or 15.

“They don’t have solid statistics and that means we are still a lot better. But I’m not personally happy, because we can do a lot and again that is one area where government needs to invest.”

On medical education in the country, Obafunwa said government needed to provide the environment in terms of facilities, infrastructure and other things the resident doctors will work with and by so doing, students will assimilate more.

“Certain things are lacking, even with regards to the teaching hospitals, and you cannot give what you don’t have and that’s why I believe that government should invest more; with health insurance, public private partnership arrangement, given it to the consortia, they will be forced to bring in the right equipment and then move things forward,” he said.

He added that instead of establishing new medical schools in the country, government should invest more in infrastructural development and personnel in the existing medical schools so that the country will have more graduates to raise the population of the available ones.

The university don also said that if the government provided the necessary infrastructure at the Colleges of Medicine across the country, it would still be necessary to introduce measures and criteria in order to have quality students among the several ones seeking admission across the country.

“We still need to correct some things in term of admission into medical schools. I believe the students should be interviewed one on one and through this, we can assess them and know the serious ones,” he said.

He added that the proliferation of medical schools by some state governments was not the solution to quality medical education, stressing that there should be adequate funding of the institutions and provision of good infrastructure for the students to learn effectively.

“We are particularly lucky in Lagos State, the state government is investing in our medical school. But many of these new medical schools don’t enjoy the same level of funding and that is impacting on the quality of medical training in the country,” he said.