Ghanaians in London dying of heart diseases

BY: Nana Sifa Twum

It has emerged that many Ghanaians living in the Greater London area of the United Kingdom are dying from heart related diseases in recent times.

This has been attributed to severe pressure of work, marital issues and also pressures from back home in Ghana, thereby making people work long hours and ending up with heart problems.

A one-year investigation by Graphic Online’s correspondent in London, Nana Sifa Twum has revealed that, an average of 120 Ghanaians living in the Greater London area died annually within the last three years.

Out of the figure, about 75 percent of them died out of heart related diseases such as Cardiomegaly, Heart failure, Heart arrhythmia, Cardiomyopathy, hypertension, Acute myocardial infarction and aspiration pneumonia among others.

Over 100 copies of death certificates available to Graphic Online shows they died as a result of heart troubles. Their ages are between 30 and 60 and mostly male.

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In some cases, the over one year-long investigation also revealed that immigration and financial issues triggered the heart problems of the deceased.

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Elizabeth, the wife of one James Yaw Owusu, who passed away at the Saint Bartholomew Hospital in January this year of Cardiomyopathy, told Graphic Online that her husband overworked himself in the last seven years.

James worked more than 14 hours per day for six days every week, she noted.

She said her husband had three jobs of three, seven and four hours each at different places of about seven miles apart and he had to struggle daily to be present.

Juana Manford also told Graphic Online in an interview that she barely saw her late husband at home.

She said, she never set eyes on her husband, Arnold Manford, 48, who died at the Whipp Cross hospital in December last year for four weeks before his death.

“All for him was work, work, work she never met me at home,” she acknowledged.

Last January, Alex, a renowned Ghanaian driver, loved by many Ghanaians, a father of four, was on a taxi attending hospital for a checkup when he suddenly collapsed on the way.

The Irish taxi driver had to call an ambulance crew to attend to him, but he died, before they got to the hospital. His death was attributed to heart failure.

It was also discovered that about 60 percent of the diseased worked with car hiring, security, cleaning and delivery companies.

These areas of work are typically demanding.

For instance, some delivery companies have working policies where their drivers work as self-employed without annual leave and sick pay.

So drivers are compelled to work all the time even when they are sick.

If drivers report sick or fail to turn-up for work, for any reason they will be fined.

Besides some of them will have to deliver about 200 parcels a day irrespective of traffic situations in the city.

Anything short of this will attract a fine.

Some drivers of car hiring companies have no working terms and conditions with the companies they work for and will have to stress themselves to earn reasonable amount for themselves weekly.

A driver, Daniel Danquah said there are certain times that he will have to work continuously for about 18 hours just to make what he will need to survive.

The President of the Reconciliation International, a Ghanaian Welfare and Bereavement charity in the UK, Archbishop Kwaku Frimpong-Manso whose organisation has been at the forefront of funeral arrangement of almost all Ghanaian deaths in the Great London area noted in an interview with Graphic Online that last year alone, six Ghanaians died in their rooms unnoticed.

They were rather discovered later after alarms were raised.

He noted that two of the bodies had decomposed before they were discovered.

He disclosed that this year alone, his office has recorded 44 deaths within the Ghanaian community, 38 were heart related.