It was one of those mornings at the outpatient department of the cardiology unit, University college hospital, Ibadan. However, this day felt different. I had been standing with three of my colleagues for over 30 minutes obtaining a medical history from elderly couple, in their late 70’s. I was in fact no longer writing. The central point in their story was all too familiar, similar to the hundreds of stories of patients, young and old, married and single trying frantically to rescue a dead or dying heart, a result of the yesteryears of a ‘fantastic’ lifestyle. But this time, the details were different, touching.
This couple met at a really young age, everything seemed to be going perfectly. The dream castle was in sight and their retirement was becoming the fairytale they had imagined, till, the man complained of a sudden severe crushing chest pain while lying on the sofa. They both undermined the pain but the increasing severity and frequency pushed them to seek medical help but then the worst had happened. He had suffered a heart attack but thank God for the swiftness for the cardiologist in preventing a sinister outcome but this was at the expense of a humongous hospital bill.
Cessation of smoking, alcohol, non-sedentary lifestyle combined with weight loss and other life style modification would have stopped or reduced the incidence of this in the first place and can still reduce the relative risk to almost zero had someone told him. It has an added advantage of coming at a low cost. Stories like this are the reasons why health education and epidemiological studies should be advocated for. No matter how equipped or prepared we are, diseases and health related events cannot be prevented if they have not been properly characterized or if the bases of public policies are not understood. That is why I am galvanized to have a degree in public health or global health. Nothing presents me with a better nudge in my choice to be a mixed academic and clinical fellow than a postgraduate study in public or global health.
My choice goes beyond one or numerous touching stories of early onset myocardial infarction. It goes beyond tear soaked ward coats acquired in attempt to pacify mothers of children with congenital heart diseases, it goes beyond the feeling of disappointment on faces of patient when you say the only assistance you can offer to them is wait and hope. It is about bringing a smile to the faces of supposedly nature forsaken people, people who have to deal with the sins of the time past. It is about the unquestionable truth that most times, prevention is cure.
The University of xxxxxxxxx being one of the oldest and best institution in the World with its envious array of top researchers, educators, staffs and scholars will make sure I get the best training the World. A postgraduate degree in global health at the university of oxford is the most important journey to become a preventive and clinical interventional cardiologist. It will provide me with the opportunity to experience how health system of advanced countries work and how such can be replicated in low resource settings.