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How to reduce kidney diseases, deaths in Nigeria, by researchers

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As the world marked the 2021 World Kidney Day on March 11, experts have called for collaborative efforts in strengthening the health system, increase awareness among Nigerians and implement stringent policies, especially as statistics show an increase in the prevalence of kidney disease in the country and the world at large.

The theme for the 2021 World Kidney Day is “Kidney Health for Everyone Everywhere – Living Well with Kidney Disease.”

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Consultant Nephrologist and Head of Clinical Services at the Healing Stripes Hospital, Dr. Akinsiku Adedamola, said the recent global statistics on the prevalence of chronic kidney disease, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) stood at 9.1 per cent, which is approximately 700 million people suffering from the disease.

The nephrologist said over three decades, the prevalence of chronic kidney disease had risen to about almost 30 percent, as diabetes accounts for about 30 per cent of all causes of chronic kidney disease, while hypertension accounts for about 33 per cent.

He said studies from Nigeria, in 2016 showed the prevalence of chronic kidney disease in Lagos to stand at 11.7 per cent among adults, with the vast majority of people unaware they have the disease and only two percent know they have the disease.

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Adedamola said stakeholders in the health sector should pay more attention to advocacy, sensitisation, and creating awareness on the things that can cause kidney disease so that people can desist from such act, in order for the country to end up having fewer numbers people coming down with chronic kidney disease.

“I must say categorically that what we see is just a tip of the iceberg. Less than one per cent of the people suffering from kidney disease are the people that we see doing dialysis; the vast majority won’t even leave up to the point where they require dialysis, they die.

“ Now early detection of kidney disease is as important as anything you can think of when we detect early, we can slow down the rate of further deterioration, in some instances, we can stop the process entirely and it also gives you time to prepare the patient appropriately,” he said.

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He said there is also a need to aid patients with kidney disease by getting highly subsidised renal replacement therapies and free dialysis to lessen their financial burden and as well reduce the mortality rate in the country.

“The government needs to do more, understanding where we are in Nigeria. The government needs to play huge role in sensitisation and creating awareness about both the disease burden and also prevention.

“However, that doesn’t mean we should allow those that have suffered this dreaded ailments to live unaided or unassisted. The government needs to find a way to collaborate with those offering those services and strengthen their capacities. Like we have in the teaching hospitals and general hospitals, the government should help increase the number of dialysis machines and further subsidise the cost. Yes, government has a role to play in both empowering the people that are meant to offer service and also creating the avenue,” he said.

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The nephrologist further said the causative factors of chronic kidney disease could be prevented if Nigerians avoid them. They include excessive intake of alcohol; cigarettes; herbal concoctions; over the counter medications such as non-steroid alert Inflammatory drugs, as they tend to affect the kidney when people use them for a long time.

The nephrologist also called for stringent measures to curtail excessive consumption of refined products, which he said is deleterious to our health in the long term.

“Now when you look at alcohol and cigarette is there is a warning that smokers and young people who drink alcohol are liable to death, we need to put those kinds of labels attached to those refined products that put us at increased risks of developing or having kidney complications as well as taxing those products,” he added.

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Speaking on complications after kidney transplant, the nephrologist said: “The reason why individuals have failed transplant is that the majority of it is self-inflicted, people try to cut corners. Ideally, one should get the kidney from a willful donor or someone giving you the organ for free or those related to you, either genetically or emotionally.”

“God has created us in such as way that when anything foreign gets into our body, our body tries to destroy it, you can imagine if you get something from your twin, remember you are related, so the chance of your body destroying it is lesser as compare to getting it from a foreigner.

“But our people will never want to be told that part, they always want to go for someone that will want to sell his or her body parts, which is totally against the ethics of medicine.

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“We also have malpractice, cutting corners and trying to maximise profits and people not screening to make sure there is a match between the donor and the recipients. Those are part of the reasons why we have some form of demise after the kidney transplantation.”

On what Healing Stripes hospital is doing towards contributing to end kidney disease in Nigeria, Adedamola said with the dialysis machines and other machines in the health facility, it is offering subsidised and in most cases, free dialysis services to lessen the financial burden on patients for them to receive appropriate care, while also reducing the mortality rate in Nigeria.

“Averagely, most patients will spend about N500, 000 to N600, 000 monthly on having adequate renal care to dialysis and all the other adjunctive therapy that the person is going to get, but our dialysis support scheme has helped to reduce the financial burden on patients,” he said.

He, however, advised Nigerians to drink adequate water every day during this hot weather as part of ways to ensure their kidneys are healthy.

“We notice that we have a higher amount of insensible losses. The amount of water that we lose via our skin or perspiration is higher. This means you need to get more fluid in to replenish what you have lost. If you take too little and you are losing water excessively, you end up having a negative balance, with means you are in deficit and causing more harm to your kidneys,” he said.

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