Insecurity and Heart Health in Africa

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The effects of insecurity on heart health constitute a broad-spectrum discourse in any society, especially in societies where the protection of lives and property is not taken very seriously. Moreover, in societies where there is failure of government in the provision of basic amenities for citizens, heart health is usually compromised.

In a country like Nigeria where terrorists have continued to unleash mayhem on the populace, many have died of heart-related ailments, most especially heart attack. During the infamous Chibok Girls abduction saga, many of the parents of the kidnapped girls could not bear the emotional trauma that came with the incident, as they unfortunately succumbed to the cold hands of death in very heart-breaking circumstances.

The bloody reign of Fulani herdsmen in the country is another gory tale of how not to nurture one’s heart. Presently, one cannot travel peacefully from one point to the other without a sense of trepidation, as these herdsmen continue to defy the sophistication of our security agents. They now brazenly kidnap travellers on the highways unchallenged and use such captives to obtain ransoms from their families. In some cases, the victims are killed even after the ransom is paid.

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Today, travelling across Nigeria is one of the hardest things to do. If you have the guts to do so, you would often experience untold tension when you pass through places like the Abuja-Kaduna highway, the Okenne-Lokoja highway, the Benin-Ore highway, the Benin-Okada highway and a host of others.

Insecurity and heart health in Africa

Because of the thick bushes adjoining these highways, kidnappers have turned them into their hideouts. It will take the application of the latest policing techniques and technologies to be able to fight these criminals to a standstill. However, most families whose relations have fallen victims of kidnapping usually prefer to pay the ransom at all cost, knowing that the kidnappers have no conscience.

It will not be out of place therefore to state here that kidnapping is one of the biggest security challenges that pose a major threat to heart health in Nigeria, especially in recent times, when pupils of primary schools are not spared from the horrendous atrocity. The most worrisome part of the kidnapping menace is that even state governments are handicapped. Some of them prefer to pay the ransom for the release of their abducted indigenes rather than engaging the criminals in the battle to protect their people.

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The truth is that, if the spate of insecurity in Nigeria is not checked, many Nigerian families will be populated with sufferers of different forms of cardiovascular disease. This is because it is not naturally healthy for the human heart to be put under constant tension through sleepless nights of thinking, worrying and lamentations. Not many are able to survive the psychological and mental agonies that come with this.

Another form of insecurity that has become a curse of some sort in Africa is food insecurity. After decades of gaining independence, many African nations cannot manage their abundant resources, including oil and minerals, and have turned their people into the poorest in the world. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), food insecurity is when a household lacks “access to enough food for an active, healthful life for all household members.”

Much of the above definition is typical of Africa, especially black Africa, where leaders embezzle public funds and love to perpetuate themselves in power, irrespective of the quality of their leadership. In Nigeria, beans and garri which had hitherto been the most affordable foods for the poor have now gone out of their reach, leading to very serious psychosocial crises in many families. Husbands and wives are daily battling with the flood of debilitating thoughts on how to provide for their children. Such thoughts are not good for the heart and have led many to their early graves.

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The vicious circle of lack and deprivation is so much different from its great forebear, known in economic parlance as the vicious cycle of poverty. And it has all the tendencies to bring nations and individuals to their knees, leaving them with no capacity to rise above the trenches of disease, suffering and all forms of disadvantages.

One of the advantages of entrenching a culture of excellent leadership and good governance is that it creates standards and policies which lead to better socio-economic and political outcomes. The earlier our leaders in Africa understood the correlation between insecurity and heart health, the better for us as a people. Insecurity, whether in socio-economic or agricultural terms, does not augur well for the citizens of any nation.

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