Every year about 56.000 children are born with heart defects in Nigeria. A lot of these children require corrective heart surgery but sadly only very few receive any form of treatment. The few that receive treatment often get sub-standard care due to lack of resources and expertise.
Most missions to Nigeria in the area of diagnosis and treatment in the past have been adult centred , ad hoc, resource intensive and benefitted only limited numbers of patients. The vision and execution of the missions were poor, SO NO SUSTAINABLE CAPACITY WAS BUILT.
This leaves thousands of children with these heart problems with NO access to desperately needed care that will allow them live long healthy lives.
About 25% of admissions of children with heart failure are due to these heart conditions they are born with. As a result of NO children’s Cardiac centre in Nigeria, thousands of children die waiting for treatment.
Congenital heart disease in newborn is rarely diagnosed due to non existent neonatal screening as well as poor diagnostic/therapeutic service.
The greatest tragedy is that 85% of these defects are correctable with relatively straight forward heart surgery which sorts these children out for life.
Without this basic surgery, children have recurrent admissions from illness, life threatening heart complications, lead miserable lives and most die prematurely.
Also, in the developing world 2% of children contract Rheumatic heart disease, a disease eradicated in europe and america. It normally starts with a throat infection and is easily treated with penicillin.
If untreated, it leads to rheumatic fever, then Rheumatic heart disease which slowly destroys the heart valve. Rheumatic heart disease can be avoided with thousands of lives saved.
The only cure presently is either surgery or catheter intervention, which is not readily available in Nigeria and unaffordable.
The UK with a population of roughly 60 million has 12 specialist children’s heart centres while Nigeria has NONE with a population of at least 180 million with an average prevalence of 1% of the general population being born with heart disease which means we have about 1.2 millions children with this DEATH SENTENCE.