BY IKENNA ASOMBA
Worried by increasing cases of kidney diseases across the country, the Renal Unit, Department of Medicine, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, Lagos, penultimate Thursday, got no fewer than 800 students and staff of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), tested for early signs of kidney damage.
As the unit joined the rest of the world in marking the World Kidney Day held annually on March 14, they, however, called on government at all levels to make health care affordable in the country, if incidences of kidney damages would be reduced.
Speaking to Quadlife shortly after a Sensitization Walk within the university campus, Dr. Braimoh Rotimi, Consultant Nephrologist at the Department of Medicine, LUTH, said that the public awareness campaign and screening exercise became imperative as kidney problems are on the increase in Nigeria just like it is in other parts of the world.
He said; “Bothered by the increasing incidences of kidney damages leading to loss of lives annually, there are few things we can do in order to preserve our kidneys. One of such things will be our blood pressure. It is important to regularly or at least check our blood pressure every three months to see whether it is increasing or normal.
“The second is to check our blood sugar. It’s advisable not to take more than two or three bottles of minerals in a week because, excess sugar intake leads to diabetes mellitus, which largely contributes to kidney damages. It’s important to check them regularly to see if they are rising. If they are rising, something needs to be done quickly to prevent kidney damages.”
However, Rotimi said these factors were instrumental to the theme of this year’s World Kidney Day tagged: Kidneys for Life; Stop Acute Kidney Injury. The nephrologist disclosed that other factors that could cause kidney damage are “vomiting, watery stool, hypertension, excessive consumption of alcohol, sugary and junk foods, salty foods, herbal drugs (agbo), stooling, diarrhoea and pain relievers taken when one is tired. These things are so common, but they could actually lead to kidney damages if not detected earlier. So I advise people to exercise regularly, at least jogging or brisk walking will go a long way,” he said.
Lauding the turn-out, most especially of students, for the screening exercise and counseling by specialists from LUTH, Dr. Babawale Bello, another consultant nephrologist noted that “the turn-out was encouraging. This shows that a lot of people, especially the youths are now concerned about their health.”
Meanwhile, Bello disclosed that since the International Kidney Community led by the International Society of Nephrologists started celebrating World Kidney Day, the Renal Department of LUTH has been participating.
His words: “Initially, we used to participate as a unit for all Kidney specialists in Lagos, but in the last three years, the LUTH Renal Department has been taking the public awareness campaign and screening separately to various locations. Last three years, we held sensitization campaign and conducted screening on residents of the LUTH community. Last year, we took the exercise to Ojuwoye Market, Mushin and this year, we have brought it to UNILAG community.”
Also advising participants, the Consultant Nephrologist said: “We are happy that they have come. They have been able to use the opportunity to check that their blood pressure is normal; to check that they don’t have any evidences of kidney diseases and that their blood sugar is normal. We have also checked their weight to ensure they are not over-weight.
“What we then do is to look at the results and counsel them on how to maintain good health if they are normal. If there are also abnormalities, we have also made arrangements for referrals and appropriate level of health care. If they are staff with minimal evidence, we refer them to the university’s Medical Centre and others to LUTH for out-patient clinic, who require specialist care.”
In the mean time, students and staff who participated at the exercise have applauded the initiative, even as Odunsi Newton, a 400L Computer Science student said he has learnt how to regularly check his blood pressure, blood sugar and do constant exercise.”