As part of efforts to reduce the increase in heart disease cases and deaths in the country, the Nigerian Heart Foundation (NHF) has partnered with Nollywood stars to raise awareness about heart disease and ways to guarantee healthy hearts.
The partnership preceded World Heart Day, celebrated annually on September 29 to educate people about heart disease, which is the leading cause of death worldwide, claiming 18.6 million lives per year.
Speaking on the topic, âBroadcasting Messages; everyone aboard, âNHF Executive Director Dr Kingsley Akinroye said that Nollywood’s influence in delivering messages remains huge, hence the need to use the channel to reduce disease cardiac. According to him, despite the fact that the foundation has carried out numerous awareness campaigns, many Nigerians are not yet aware that, globally, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the world. Akinroye revealed that out of about 520 million people living with diseases around the world, about 20 million people die from these diseases. He said that since the outbreak of COVID-19, that number of cases has increased dramatically, and research evidence shows that most people who die from COVID have underlying heart disease. âPeople with COVID19 and heart disease are among those at the highest risk of dying and developing serious illnesses,â he said.
The cardiologist said this year’s theme, âUse the Heart to Connectâ is a call to action for individuals, professionals like actors and actresses, communities and governments, to use âtheir heartsâ. to connect to make informed choices for society, our loved ones and ourselves. . “
The director called on telecom operators to find and develop the infrastructure to reach disconnected hearts everywhere, adding that the government must prioritize heart health in policies, digital infrastructure to improve telemedicine in our cities and rural communities.
Akinroye also called on the government to strengthen the pharmaceutical industries by making drugs affordable and accessible.
The main partners of the NHF for 2021 are the Nollywood actors and actresses who have been selected as âNigerian Heart Foundation Ambassadorsâ. Ten members of Nollywood were appointed and received full member status of the Nigerian Health Foundation, while three members of Nollywood were appointed ambassadors of the Nigerian Health Foundation to promote heart disease advocacy and awareness.
Akinroye said that footballing legend Segun Odegbami remains a longtime ambassador for the NHF, which worked with schoolchildren and young people in Nigeria on heart disease prevention. While delivering his virtually welcoming speech, NHF Executive Board Chairman Dr Femi Mobolaji Lawal said cardiovascular disease is the number one killer disease in the world as it kills an estimated six million people each year.
According to him, some of the causes of heart disease are: tobacco consumption, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, harmful use of alcohol and air pollution. âIf these factors are controlled, then 80% of premature deaths from heart disease could be prevented,â Lawal said.
He advised the new ambassadors to use their role and influence in the Nollywood industry to get the messages out to the general public.
Moji Oyetayo aka Mama Ajasco, who spoke on behalf of other NHF ambassadors, said messages about heart disease and ways to ensure heart health will reach Nigerians through scripts and other media.
She explained that this is a very good opportunity for her, as it will allow her to reach more people, especially young people, to make them understand that whatever they put in them can be give them a long life, or shorten it.
Oyetayo, the former chairman of the Actors Guild of Nigeria, Lagos State Chapter, said ambassadors would not take the task of raising awareness about heart disease for granted.
She said: âMy colleagues and I are extremely grateful to join us at this time. This is the time when the entertainment industry is losing a lot of giants due to various health issues.
âWe’re going to use various platforms to reach more people, the more we say these words the more people would listen to us because people tend to believe what they see us doing. We’re going to make sure that we also act on what we say.
âWe will be running many seminars and empowerment programs to help get these messages across to the public, especially young people, about behaviors that affect their hearts.
“Next year, by the grace of God, we could have touched more lives and organized symposia, seminars, billboards, to reach out to youth and the general public, we will also have films, skits. to reflect these messages. “
The âStars for Healthy Heartâ video was previewed and certificates of recognition were presented to Nollywood stars as brand ambassadors in appreciation of their contribution to promoting heart health.