By Leocadia Bongben
To prevent, avoid or postpone premature deaths, Prof. Samuel Kingue President of the Cameroon Cardiac Society urges Cameroonians to, “Take the initiative to go to hospital or a pharmacy to check the blood pressure and sugar level. With about FCFA 1000, one can know the state of the heart and health”.
Many people have high blood pressure yet do not know, and should not wait for free heart screening campaigns to check the health of their hearts, Kingue said during a ceremony at the Ngousso Public School to mark the World Heart Day on September 29.
The day was celebrated under the theme, “I protect my heart and that of my family” with the Minister of Public Health Represented by the Secretary of State at the Ministry of Public Health, Alim Hayatou.
It was an occasion for the Cardiologist to send out heart health tips to the population following the weeklong free screening carried out.
98 adults both staff and other Cameroonians were tested, revealing 19 cases of high blood pressure, 11 who did not know.
Also,1791 younger children who have a high probability of heart malformations were screened in a school of 2,599 pupils. 39 cases were suspected and further tests using high performant equipment, with precision revealed 9 cases of congenital malformations which presently do not require surgery. So, Kingue advised parents to take the children to the hospital for further treatment.
Against this backdrop, the Cardiologist underscored the importance of paying attention to children as he cautioned, “if they complain, don’t wait, feeling pain in the throat, cure with antibiotics”.
Professor David Wood, Cardiologist and President of the World Heart Federation in a message on World heart Day said, “We cannot underestimate the global importance of good heart health – 31% of all deaths worldwide are from CVD.
According to the World Heart Federation, WHF, CVD claims 17.5 million lives every year figures expected to reach 23 million by 2030. Worldwide, 1 in 10 people aged 30-70 die prematurely from CVD, including heart disease and stroke but the good news is that at least 80% of these premature deaths could be avoided or postponed.
Many people are not as lucky as the two football icons, Jean Paul Akono Sidney Olympic Gold Medallist in 2000 and Rigobert Song Bahanag legendary captain who survived heart diseases.
These two have been awarded certificates of chivalry and are now ambassadors of Cameroon Cardiac Society awarded these two certificates of chivalry and made them their ambassadors to sensitise other on cardio vascular diseases, CVD.
Created and led by the WHF the World Heart Day aims to combat the rising number of people with cardiovascular disease (CVD), the world’s biggest killer, by raising awareness and promoting the importance of living a heart-healthy lifestyle.
It is for this reason that the World Heart Federation Boss said, “World Heart Day is our chance to bring people together to tackle the world’s biggest killer and urge more people across the globe to improve their heart health. The power to change is in our hands. Making lifestyle changes such as eating more fruit and vegetables, keeping active and stopping smoking can save millions of lives.”
This year, the “WHF is urging people to act by sharing heart healthy tips and attending iconic illumination events. We can all ‘share the power’ and inspire our families, friends and communities around the world to make the small lifestyle changes that can make a powerful difference to heart health,”.
WHF Tips for a heart-health
- Become more active: Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intense activity five times a week.
- Remember even small things like taking the stairs or getting off the bus early can help
- Stop smoking – this is the single best thing you can do to improve your heart health.
- If you need help try speaking to a health professional, such as a high street pharmacist
- A more balanced diet: Try to eat 5 portions (about a handful) of fruit and veg a day
- Get your children involved in cooking to help them learn about healthy eating
- Get your blood pressure checked regularly
By Leocadia Bongben
Experts are worried that villages around dams: Songloulou, Lom Pangar, Mekin, Lagdo and Nachtigal risk disappearing if nothing is done to eliminate the black fly spreading river blindness also known as Oncerchociaisis and other vectors.
Oncerchociasis is an eye and skin disease caused by a worm (filarial) known by the scientific name ‘Onchocerca volvulus’, transmitted through bite. The body of an affected person is completely destroyed and is related with epilepsy and sexual impairment.
Ten years ago a village, in the along the Sanaga river had 150 pupils in a school, today the school has been deserted as the younger generations flees from lacerating bite of the black fly. Agricultural is abandoned leading to reduction of economic activities, as the result is ghost villages as villagers leave to town.
Dr. Pierre Baleguel Nkot, President of the Yaoundé Initiative Foundation, YIF, an NGO that intervenes in the domains of health, agriculture, environment and sustainable development, says dams are a good breeding environment for the black fly.
“The black fly breeds in fast flowing water, natural or artificial like a dam that produces white water, is oxygenated and favourable for larvae. Producing artificial water, we are creating a breeding ground for insects”, he stated.
“With about 8000 bites per minute from the black fly it is difficult for the survival of the population, besides, the new dams already have 2000 bites per minute”, Nkot laments.
As a measure of prevention, YIF is protecting people around the two dams, Edea and Songloulou, by killing the larvae inside the river, but this is done in a limited area. Consequently the black fly comes from others areas flying about 200km per day, the expert indicated.
Working to control the on the Sanaga River, Prof. Graham Matthews, Entomologist, Imperial University London says he has been treating the river between Monatele and Edea, using Temefos spread from an engine powered boat.
“The insecticide Temefos, was first used in West Africa by the WHO to treat rivers in nine countries, using an aircraft, but insecticides are not a long term solution as the vector could develop resistance”, Graham says.
In the long term to completely eradicate the black fly and other vectors, there is need to know the current situation in the whole country, the state of the black fly and other vectors, the people living in the area, the species in the environment and where they are breeding.
Against this background, in collaboration with the Ministry of the Economy, Planning and Regional Development, YIF launched a socio-environmental impact assessment of the black fly and other vectors in all the regions of Cameroon on June 21 at the Jean XXIII Centre in Nvolye.
The six-month long assessment with experts from Nigeria, London would help the government draw an eradication plan from the results, says Patrice Nsegbe, Head of Cartography at the MINEPAT and Focal Point to the impact assessment studies.
“Government has been supporting for about ten years supports YIF in the fight against the black fly. We need to make this a programme not project as it has been in the pilot zones to cover the whole country”.
He underscores the need to anticipate and put corrective measures before the projects are completed for the wellbeing of the population.
With the results of the impact assessment Cameroon could replicate what the Americans did in Tennessee in the 1930s to level water flow, though costly, Graham suggests.