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Persistence of stomach ulcers among Nigerians

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By Nicole

Stomach ulcers persist among Nigerians due to Misdiagnosis and neglect.

Gastric ulcers, also known as stomach ulcers, are open sores that form on the stomach’s lining. Additionally, a section of the intestine right above the stomach may develop ulcers. The term for this is duodenal ulcers. Peptic ulcers are sometimes used to describe stomach and duodenal ulcers. These details apply to both. When the barrier defending the stomach lining from acid breaks down, stomach ulcers develop. This makes it possible for the stomach lining to suffer harm. In the majority of cases, it is typically brought on by taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or aspirin, especially if they are taken frequently or in large quantities, or by having an infection with the Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria.

Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) has been neglected for a long time in Africa, but according to Prof. Stella Smith, founding president of the African Helicobacter and Microbiota Study Group, the pathogen persists in infecting people and causing a wide range of illnesses in a significant number of them. Helicobacter pylori is a Gram-negative bacterium that colonizes and infects the human gut, according to Smith, who is also the Director of Research at the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR).

Numerous gastrointestinal problems have been linked to the virus.

According to her, the virus has been linked to a variety of gastrointestinal conditions, including gastritis, peptic ulcer disease, gastric mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) lymphoma, and gastric cancer. Helicobacter pylori has been reported to have infected 50% of the world’s population, with different races and regions having varying levels of severity and pathological outcomes. Smith outlined the difficulties associated with the disease in her paper, “Helicobacter pylori: The Peptic Ulcer Bug Neglected But Unrelenting,” presented at the 2022 Health Writers Association of Nigeria’s Symposium, HEWAN.

Professor cited a research study that revealed that different regions of Nigeria have different rates of H. pylori infections, with northern Nigeria having the highest rates. According to the study, there are a number of difficulties with H. pylori research, diagnosis, and treatment in Africa, including a lack of precise prevalence data, a lack of agreement on diagnosis and treatment, a lack of funding, a shortage of professionals, and an insufficient infrastructure for health care.

Many diagnostic techniques have been used within Africa.

Smith lamented the fact that Helicobacter pylori infection (HPI) is frequently overlooked in Africa whereas the majority of other infectious diseases, such as HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, and COVID-19, receive more funding and grants for research. With a reported incidence of 70.1%, the infection burden in Africa is significant. However, given the paucity of data in some continent-wide locations, this number may be greater. She further added that while the prevalence is declining in industrialized countries, it is rife in developing ones and affects 51% of the world’s population.

Early diagnosis of the infection in Africa is a crutial step in the right direction. Given the high prevalence of Helicobacter pylori infection (HPI) in Africa and the clinical consequences it causes, early and correct identification is essential for controlling, treating, and curing the illness. She claimed that many diagnostic techniques, both invasive and non-invasive, have been used all throughout Africa. An ache or searing sensation in your stomach (abdomen), stomach pain that may be worse on an empty stomach, nausea, loss of appetite, frequent burping (belching), bloating, and accidental weight loss are all signs and symptoms of HPI.

Misdiagnosis and lack of awareness remains a major problem in Africa.

She noted that due to ignorance and incorrect diagnosis, the majority of stomach-aches in Nigeria are mistaken for ulcers. Misdiagnosis combined with ignorance is still a significant issue in Africa, particularly Nigeria. The African Helicobacter & Microbiota Study Group was established in response to the demand for precise diagnosis and therapy (AHMSG). Antibiotic resistance has been evolved in various bacterial infections, including H. pylori, as a result of antibiotic abuse and overuse. This is making it extremely difficult to effectively treat and get rid of the H. pylori infection. The treatment of H. pylori in Africa has involved the evaluation of numerous antibiotic regimens. A few number of regimens, though, have consistently shown high eradication rates. Additionally, there is a lack of information on the prevalence of antibiotic resistance in H. pylori.

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