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Non communicable diseases and the Nigerian Entertainment industry

I know what you are thinking. What does the Nigerian entertainment industry have to do with Non-communicable diseases? I will elaborate further but first; let me tell you what a non-communicable disease is.

non-communicable disease, or NCD, is a medical condition or disease which is non-infectious. NCDs are diseases of long duration and generally slow progression. They include heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma, diabetes, chronic kidney disease just to mention a few.

According to the World Health Organisation reports NCDs are by far the leading cause of mortality in the world, representing over 60% of all deaths . Risk factors such as a person’s background, lifestyle and environment are known to increase the likelihood of certain NCDs. Every year, at least 5 million people die because of tobacco use and about 2.8 million die from being overweight. Referred to as a “lifestyle” disease, because the majority of these diseases are preventable illnesses, the most common causes for non-communicable diseases (NCD) include tobacco use (smoking), alcohol abuse, poor diets (high consumption of sugar, salt, saturated fats, and trans fatty acids) and physical inactivity.

If present growth trends are maintained, by 2020, NCDs will attribute to 7 out of every 10 deaths in developing countries. With statistics such as these, it comes as no surprise that international entities such as the World Health Organization & World Bank Human Development Network have identified the prevention and control of NCDs as an increasingly important discussion item on the global health agenda.

Africa is currently faced with a double burden of both NCDs and infectious diseases and our health system currently cannot bear the burden which is why prevention is an important control strategy. In Nigeria the story is not different.

Most High income countries have created policies to control NCD’s by limiting inappropriate marketing of unhealthy foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children (especially via media and schools), imposing controls on harmful alcohol use, raising taxes on tobacco, and curbing legislation to curb smoking in public places.  What is Nigeria Doing? Your guess is as good as mine.

Ok now back to the entertainment industry. Media as we all know is the best way to get any message across and beverage marketers have been doing this for years. Most of these brands are heavily taxed and are regulated in the west (due to diseases mentioned above), AND these countries have responsible governments that actually put its peoples interests first. They also have a health system that works and they have proper social security in place.  What does Nigeria have?

Some of these companies have now started HEAVY MARKETING in Africa, where they see huge profits to be made. A rising population with no regulatory and taxing system in place is a time bomb waiting to explode.

The Nigerian Entertainment industry is used as a major tool to promote a lot of these products. Some music videos (and movies) glamourize alcohol drinking and smoking. I wish that was all.  Most entertainment/fashion events these days are either sponsored by hennesy , veuve cliquot, baileys, Guiness, Olmeca tequila, Smirnoff,  just to name a few. A lot of shows are also sponsored by cigarettes companies.

Why is this an issue? A lot of young people are targets. The highest rate of road accidents from alcohol drinking alone occurs between males ages 18-25. This figure isn’t far from home as young men in Nigeria lose their lives.

Night clubs are also a part of the NCD problem because they have refused to ban smoking in their establishments. Non-smokers are at risk of cancer by being constantly exposed to second hand smoking. If people want to smoke they have the right to, but its unfair to expose others who are non-smokers.

Some celebrities don’t seem to care about the consequences of endorsing these brands. What effect will these have on their young fans? What’s the likely effect of constant display of alcohol in music videos? What about the effect of always singing about getting high/drunk?

The answer is simple. Liver cirrhosis, Diabetes Obesity and cancer respectively…in a few years

Media is a proven tool for mind control…young people will eventually pick up all the above mentioned habits and with Nigeria’s Non-existent health system, we will have an epidemic in our hands. As always the poorest people in the society will suffer the consequences more, unfortunately majority of them support the industry by buying CDs and going for all these shows.

Please bear in mind that these companies don’t care about you, they only care about their pockets so you have to take health matters into your own hands.

Like i said earlier, these diseases Progress slowly . When it starts cropping up in millions will people be happy about being  pawns for international companies?  Will people be happy about contributions made to leading fellow citizens to their death beds in exchange for a few million Naira?

When an epidemic occurs will we all be ready to face it?  With the massive brain drain of doctors coupled with the fact that most young people want to be entertainers, not doctors, who will treat you in your 50s?



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