Many families have lost their loved ones to kidney related illnesses in recent times because of sheer ignorance and to a greater extent, cost.
Despite the enormity of sorrow this illness has caused many homes, the government seems to be doing nothing as victims are left to bear the cost all alone.
Before now, little was heard of kidney failure as a major kind of everyday illness but the reverse has become the case in Nigeria with the increasing cases of chronic kidney disease (CDK), and end-stage renal.
As deadly as this menace is, available statistics on kidney diseases has remained scarce with no reliable statistics about the prevalence of chronic kidney disease (CKD) in the majority of African countries including Nigeria.
A renowned Nollywood actor, Muna Obiekwe, recently joined the long list of Nigerians who have lost the inglorious battle against kidney failure alongside some figures who succumb to the disease in the country such as the broadcaster, Steve Kadiri, former president, late Umaru Musa Yar’adua, Inspiration FM presenter Chaz B, movie actor, Enebeli Elebuwa and singer, Mozzyx with only a few survival.
Medical experts have revealed that more people die every day from kidney related diseases than malaria and HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.
The World Health Organization (WHO) statistics reveals that the death rate from intrinsic kidney and urinary tract disease was one million in the year 2012; ranking twelfth on the list of major causes of deaths in sub-Saharan Africa, and, indeed, Nigeria.
By 2020, according to the report, the burden of diabetes and cardiovascular disease will have increased by 130% in Africa alone.
Experts have said that 36.8 million Nigerians (23 per cent) are suffering from various stages of kidney disease in Nigeria. With this figure, it means that one in seven Nigerians is suffering from some form of kidney disorder or another.
A consultant Nephrologist, kidney physician at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) Ikeja, Doctor Amisu Mumuni said while kidney transplant remains the utmost treatment for CKD, getting donor is a big challenge along with huge amount of money required to sustain dialysis.
This he said is why it is important for people to guide against kidney diseases at all cost.
He said, “I want to sound this note that kidney diseases are very expensive to manage that one should at all cost avoid it. Prevention is better than cure. At the last World Kidney Day that was the message that people should strive to avoid kidney diseases. If you have hypertension or you have a family history of hypertension, you should always check your blood pressure closely and be religious with your drugs by making sure that your blood pressure is monitored and controlled. The same thing is applicable to diabetes or people who are diabetic and also watch your diets, risk exercise, take a walk, avoid sedentary lifestyle, avoid alcohol, avoid smoking and food that contains excessive fat because fat doesn’t really work for kidney, it worsens complications and you also have to cut down intake of saturated fats.”
Causes of kidney diseases
Mumuni attributed causes of kidney diseases as multifarious and the environmental in nature with hypertension and diabetes as the most common causes of chronic kidney diseases in Nigeria and Africa at large. Also, chronic nomenoproverties in this condition kidneys are found to have lost function continuously for a period of over three months. Lost function means that is not being able to practicaly carry out physiological functions vis-a-vis clearing waste products, producing blood in the body, producing vitamins like calcium, clearing excess water out of the body. So when kidney fails to do all that continuously for more than three months that is a chronic kidney damage disease in that entity. There are some that are also related to gene, a condition called polysisty chronic diseases which have the condition of swollen like in the kidney and is a situation that is genetic. Some are also related to drugs, may be if patients have used analgesics continuously for more than two years, taken close to 1gm daily can cause kidney damage. Some other remedies taken in our local environment like herbs constitutes risk of kidney disease. So basically, drugs, genetics, hypertension, diabetics, reoccurent infections of the kidney, infection taken months to year and not well treated can also cause chronic kidney damage. Alcohol and smoking are indirectly linked to causing kidney disease. Few cases of those who have sickle cell diseases, HIV, infections like hyperthesis B, C are also linked to kidney damage. Also, severe malaria can cause acute kidney failure especially in children.
People mostly affected by kidney diseases
According to him, kidney conditions prevalence cut across all ages, all races but the extent of affectation differs. “It is really so heartrending that a lot of our young individuals have come out with chronic kidney diseases these days. This is with the rate of incidents at which we see most of our patients coming out with hypertension now which like I said is the commonest cause of chronic kidney disease. So, it is seen more in adolescents and based on a few studies done both locally and international. The working class are usually more affected from 18 to early 40 are mostly affected and these are the group that are also having high degree of hypertension these days. Of course it can affect extreme people too just like we have seen cases in children, elderly but the working class are mostly affected,” he said.
Statistics on the rate of chronic kidney diseases
It’s quite increasing I remember years back we talked about 12percent cases, increase to 16 and 18percent now it has moved over to 20percent globally. But in Nigeria or Africa, we cannot really give specific figures because the studies here are not all encompassing there are lots reports here and there but globally, the prevalence is approaching close to 20percent now,” he said.
Weaknesses which is as a result of low blood, that is one of the things kidney disease causes because the blood tests reduces and you become weak and tired. Anourazia you don’t like eating, you have nausea, vomiting, subsequently, hiccup may persist and early morning facial swollen. Also, the legs can be swollen and one won’t be able to move around and the level of urine also drops. If this goes on with weaknesses and body edema and you know that you are hypertensive or diabetic those are two commonest causes, you need to see your doctor. And also notice apart from urinating, the quality of the urine sometime could hardly fill a bottle of mineral bottle per void and where your urine foams excessively, you need to take note that there is problem because these are signs of kidney diseases. Foaming urine shows you are losing protein in blood which shouldn’t be, the protein should be kept in your body tissue and all that. So, when you notice all these you should approach your doctor for examination or diagnosis, he explained.
Challenges in treating kidney related diseases in Nigeria
Mumuni explained the challenge of managing kidney disease in Nigeria is basically finance, “like I said there is no social support for kidney diseases treatments in Nigeria from the government as we speak, the money comes from the patients. The national health bill is not out even though we are trying to push for it to really come out with acceptable standards in terms of how to manage them.”
He stated that there is also an aspect of psychology in managing patients with chronic diseases like a condition that has high mortality and mobility, “you have to understand that most of our patients that cannot afford dialysis die eventually of heart diseases even some of those on dialysis still die of heart disease. If you cannot afford adequate dialysis of N100.00 to N120.00 per week which most family cannot afford in Nigeria, if you have 10 patients hardly you will see one or two that can sustain dialysis for a month or six weeks three times per month out of 10. So, the remaining eight will come down with some complications vis-a-vis heart problems, become anaemic, low blood, fluids all over their body and eventually they give up and that is why dialysis must be sustained.”