Heart disorders a looming killer in Africa

Geneva- Switzerland (PANA) -- Cardiovascular disorders are likely to be leading causes of deaths in Africa in the next 20 years, nutritional health experts attending the global forum for health research here have warned.
Poor nutrition, lifestyle habits which encourage smoking and the lack of regular physical exercises, the experts said, pose serious health risks related to the action of both heart and lungs among African communities.
"It is necessary for African populations to go back to traditional foodstuff, notably high fibre foods, vegetables and traditional protein diet," said Professor Tola Atinmo, a nutritionist at Nigeria's University of Ibadan.
Of greater concern, however, is the nutritional status of Africa's under-five-years-old children.
About half of the children suffer from undernourishment, a problem which also retards their mental health development, Atinmo observed.
Atinmo has urged African mothers to breastfeed babies, at least for six months after birth, in order to boost their resistance to infant-related infections.
But in view of the AIDS pandemic on the continent, many HIV-positive women were reportedly hesitant to breastfeed their infants fearing they would infect the children with the deadly virus.
According to Professor Qurraisha Abdool Karim of the department of community health at the University of Natal, South Africa, sub-Saharan Africa is the only region of the world where HIV prevalence was considered to be more among women than men.
Atinmo however told PANA that a WHO research had shown that only about 20 percent of infants were likely to get HIV when from breastfed by HIV-positive mothers.
"For the sake of the 80 percent, mothers must be encouraged to breastfeed their babies as this provides immunity from diseases.
But HIV-positive women need to be assisted to make informed choices," he said.

11 october 2001 21:12:00

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