A Consultant Cardiologist at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) and President, Medical Women Association of Nigeria (MWAN), Enugu state branch, Dr. Esther Ekwe, has identified adoption of western lifestyle as responsible for the rampant spread of non-communicable diseases in Nigeria.
Dr. Esther Ekwe stated at a free community screening programme for breast and cervical cancer on women and girls organized by the association in Enugu to mark this year’s World Cancer Day that sedentary lifestyle of Nigerians has resulted to the increase in non-communicable diseases and called for change of attitude.
According to her, “We have adopted the western lifestyle – their diet, their dressing, even their music, the way they talk, we are now beginning to eat like the white man and we feel it is evidence of good living. We are eating refined carbohydrates; we are no longer eating fruits and vegetables cultivated in our gardens like our forefathers did. We no longer go to the farm or trek to the market; everyone now has a car. People no longer walk so we are living a sedentary lifestyle and this has caused epidemics of obesity and with all the big shopping malls attracting people from other countries and selling all sorts of things and other refined products and carbohydrates; these are why these non-communicable diseases are rampant”
She pleaded with Nigerians to go back to “eating the natural food, to cultivate our farms and avoid use genetically modified means to grow food”, adding that there was need for regular exercises to keep the organs of the body functional.
Explaining that attention has now been shifted from infectious diseases to non-communicable diseases, Ekwe emphasized that the growing trend should be a source of worry to Nigerians as it has given rise to heart diseases and sudden deaths.
She stated that the association decided to embark on the exercise to enlighten the public on the dangers of continuing the way we live, stressing that with the free screening exercise cervical cancer cases could be dictated early and handled to avoid spread.
Saying that cases of cervical cancer were dictated from among the over 1,000 women who benefitted from the screening programme, she said that the association would follow up on the cases.
“We have so far identified six cases of cancer of the cervices and now that we have identified them, we will follow them up. We are screening women, young women and girls for breast and cervical cancer, we are also screening them for non-communicable diseases like hypertension, diabetes, we are checking their sugar level and weighing them for obesity; because these are risk factors for heart disease and sudden death. We are also given them vaccination against the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which is a virus that has been replicated as a result of cancer of the cervices in women”, she said, stressing that the centre since inception had offered monthly medical services on women.