Health experts have warned that young people are now more susceptible to being infected by emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases hence a need for caution on man’s interaction with animals.
The experts spoke at the 12th Annual Symposium & Awards Ceremony of the Health Writers Association of Nigeria (HEWAN) which was held in Lagos.
With the theme: “Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases: Implications and Solutions” various speakers at the summit submitted that the patterns of these emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases which affect young people more are mostly due to the nature of human interactions and practices with wild animals and birds.
Speaking on the theme of the symposium, the Medical Officer of Health, Ifelodun Local Council Development Area of Lagos, Dr. Japheth Olugbogi described emerging infectious diseases as the “world’s deadliest weapons” that is ravaging among man .
According to Olugbogi, “Emerging infectious diseases are the ones which recently appeared within a population or those whose incidence or geographic location/range is increasing rapidly or threatens to increase in the near future”
He said these diseases tend to also be ones which have increased within the past two decades or are threatening to increase and those that do not respect national boundaries, and more young people have become more susceptible.
National President, the Healthcare Providers Association of Nigeria (HCPAN) Dr. Jimmy Arigbabuwo in his remarks expressed concern that most of the emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases are becoming virulent among young people.
Arigbabuwo who chaired the symposium noted, “These days, we now see lots of young people become more susceptible to infections such as fungi, bacteria, and viral Infections as we also see non-infectious diseases hitherto common in older population.
According to him “I can assure you of one thing, it is not likely that this planet will do without emerging and re-emerging of new diseases and pandemics be it viral or bacteria, fungal or even issues that will deal with immunity or parasites.
“They come in because of the existence of the interference between human population and animals – we deal with them, we play with them and we in turn get infected by their diseases”.
Arigbabuwo, warned further, For example, young people in their 20s and 30s are now susceptible to strokes while cardiovascular diseases among young population is also at a more alarming rate
He added,”Similarly, diseases like prostate cancer, brain, ovary, and skin diseases not common among young adults are now frequently seen”, Arigbabuwo noted.
Olugbogi attributed some of the predisposing factors to the spread of some of the emerging diseases to increase air travel, environmental violations, migration, poverty, wars, dense population, and closer contact with wild animals among others.
Some of the identified diseases include: HIV, SARS, Lyme disease, Dengue, West Nile virus, Zika, Ebola, COVID-19, Monkeypox, and so on.
He equally pointed out that while some of the emerging infectious had been around, healthcare workers were unfamiliar with them in the areas of outbreaks and so pick these up and spread such rapidly to places they did not previously exist.
Another Speaker, Dierector of Research,Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Nigeria Institute ofMedicalReserach, Yaba,Professor StellaSmith who spoke on “Helicobacter Pylori:The peptic ulcer bug, Neglected But Unrelenting warned that the disease is so unrelenting thereby causing causing diverse array of disease conditions in a large number of individuals.
Prof.Smith said H.Pylori is a bacteria implicated in infecting the human gut and responsible for causing different gastric disorders including gastritis, peptic ulcer disease, gastric mucosa associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) lymphoma and gastric adenocarcinoma most of which are often misdignosed.
Speaking on finding solutions to treatment of these diseases in Nigeria through health insurance, Lagos State Coordinator, National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) Mrs. Aisha Abubakar Haruna said, accessing prompt medical care by the sick could only be through a ready-made insurance policy.
Mrs. Haruna pointed out that government has through the National Health Insurance Act of 2922 made it mandatory for every citizen to key into universal health coverage.
According to her, every Nigerian is expected to key into the basic health care provision fund provided in the states such that every resident must buy at least the minimum package in their state while the government provides for the vulnerable groups as well.
Representative of the President of the Nigeria Medical Association, Dr. Salisu Oseni, charged health and medical reporters to be advocates of good medical practices in the government and for government to ensure stable environment that can support research and development among practitioners while it ensures and encourages practicability of an independent health insurance package for the citizens.
President of the Health Writers Association of Nigeria, Mrs. Chioma Obinna expressed concern for health Writers at the ravaging nature of emerging infectious diseases and called on every stakeholder to support the equipping of health Writers with adequate knowledge and information to enable them to communicate effectively to Nigerians
She pleaded with health Writers to always be abreast of developments in the science world of infectious diseases through wide reading and following trends around the world so they are not caught napping as health Journalists.