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SPECIAL REPORT: Experts Raise Alarm Over Stomach Ulcer Prevalence

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Abdullahi Hussaini is currently battling with constant stomach pains and shortness of breath which began from his youthful days in the early 1990s.

His condition became critical in 1993 when he started vomiting blood.

After years of treating stomach pain and consulting herbalists, the resident of Yan-Tsire in Nasarawa Local Government Area of Kano State was diagnosed with stomach ulcer in a Kaduna hospital.

“I have been suffering from an ulcer for over 30 years now. At the time, I was treating stomach pain, but when it got worse around 1993, I went to a hospital and the doctors confirmed that I had an ulcer,” he said.

Now 53, Abdullahi still experiences constant pain and has been placed on medication for the rest of his life.

“My ulcer is chronic now, so the doctors placed me on medication for life. And whenever I fail to take my medicine for a day, the crisis will start the next day.”

Kano Ulcer patient

Another ulcer patient, Claudia Haruna, 25, a native of Kaduna, was diagnosed with an ulcer at only eight years old. She said her ulcer was caused by starvation.

“My ulcer was a result of me starving myself because I went days without eating. As a kid, I felt it was an achievement,” she said.

“Now, the ulcer is at the chronic stage cause I feel pains in my chest and back, and I can barely breathe. Most times I breathe through the mouth,” she added.

Hundreds of Ulcer Patients Waiting to See Doctor

Stomach ulcer patients' files are stacked on shelves at the Muhammad Abdullahi Wase Teaching Hospital’s male and female medical wards.

Young and old ulcer patients could also be seen queueing outside the Gastroenterologist's office at the hospital’s General Outpatient Department, eagerly waiting their turn.

Muhammadu Abdullahi Wase Teaching Hospital

One of them, Hauwa Issac, 24, a graduate of Sociology at the Federal University, Dutsinma said she has been managing ulcers since 2020 after skipping breakfast in school.

Hauwa further revealed that she becomes “helpless” whenever her crisis starts.

“At times, I feel like I will lose my life the next minute,” she told Nigeria Info.

Four Million People Diagnosed with Ulcer Annually

These stories tell of a disturbing prevalence of stomach ulcers in Kano which adequately captures the situation across the globe as the National Library of Medicine (NLM) says four million people are diagnosed with ulcers every year.

In Kano, over a thousand patients suffering from ulcers are diagnosed daily, according to data from the Non-Communicable Disease Control (NDC) Unit in the state.

Although early detection is an avenue to getting relief, many Nigerians are still unaware of the ailment greatly eating at their longevity.

Leading Causes of Ulcer

Bacteria and the intake of unprescribed drugs are the leading causes of ulcers.

However, the disease may be triggered if a human fails to eat when due, just as carbonated drinks and spicy (peppery) food are contributory elements.

The Kano State Ministry of Health’s Deputy Director of Public Health and Disease Control, Dr. Ibrahim Aliyu Umar says the government has expanded its healthcare services to “distant communities” to provide adequate care to ulcer patients.

He identified regular chest pain, indigestion, vomiting, and abdominal discomfort as symptoms of an ulcer, and stressed that people with the indicators must report to the nearest health facility for prompt diagnosis.

Dr. Umar further revealed that ulcer patients could lose their lives if they fail to report to the hospital on time.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 stresses the need to ensure healthy lives for all by 2030.

Hence, timely visits to health facilities and prompt diagnosis to halt the prevalence of diseases are paramount for a healthy and better Nigeria.


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