UCL doctor initiates Nigerian heart disease campaign
17 October 2008
In Nigeria, like most of Africa, it's the fight against AIDS that captures the attention of the scientific community and the wallets of the watching world. But heart disease has a much lower profile despite killing many more nationally and internationally.
Dr Derin Balogun, UCL Centre for Advancement of Learning and Teaching, is trying to change that with Heart Campaign; a UK-based, not-for-profit organisation. Heart Campaign was set-up in October 2007 and its mission is to increase medical education, improve investment in cardiovascular research and raise public awareness of heart disease in Africa's most populous nation.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO) reports the prevalence of hypertension, or high blood pressure, is about 10-12% within Nigerian communities, affecting at least 8m people.
Simple dietary changes could easily slash the number of sufferers, says Dr Baolgun: "Hypertension in Nigerians is mainly due to very high dietary salt and fat intake, though other risk factors include obesity, a low intake of fruits and vegetables and a lack of exercise."
But already there have been successes, both in Nigeria and beyond. A string of well-attended conferences featuring international experts have raised the disease's medical profile, while the Healthy-Heart Appeal and a promotional piece, recorded by Nigerian celebrities, has been broadcast on Nigerian television and radio, with global exposure to the Nigerian diaspora through the satellite channel BEN.
Dr Balogun says plans are in progress to involve UCL's Institute for Global Health in future missions to the area.
For more information on Heart Campaign UK, UCL Centre for Advancement of Learning and Teaching or UCL Global Health click on the links above.
Picture shows Dr. Derin Balogun and Professor Graham MacGregor, one of the UK's foremost experts in cardio-vascular disease, at the Nigerian Heart 2008 lecture in Lagos, last September.