By Gabriel Olawale
Wife of the Lagos State Governor, Dr Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu Thursday in Lagos decried the increasing cases of Chronic Kidney Disease, CKD, among Nigerians.
Speaking during the World Kidney Day commemoration organised by Kidney Foundation For Africa, Ibijoke said hospital-based findings have shown that about 13 per cent of Nigeria population is suffering from chronic kidney disease. She noted that the findings did not capture patients who lack access to hospital care, adding that available data from the World Health Organisation, WHO, revealed that about 2 million people in Lagos State are suffering from chronic kidney disease.
Stating that the figure was unacceptable, Sanwo-Olu, said that the state government were making concerted efforts towards awareness creation on the causes and prevention of CKD.
“Recently, Mr. Governor visited the Cardiac and Renal Centre in Gbagada to inspect the facility to facilitate its reopening. We are conducting state wellness week to create awareness and screen residents free of charges for hypertension, diabetes, cancer, among others.
“The truth is that the awareness aspect is critical as people need to be aware that they are first responsible for their health and wellbeing. They have several reasons to reduce the risk factors and embrace a healthy lifestyle.”
Speaking at the event which had representatives from East, West, North and South Africa, Consultant Physician/ Nephrologist, Dr Ebun Bamgboye regretted that kidney diseases are less symptomatic which makes people not realise they have it.
“We have about five stages of kidney failure, the first three stages are often not symptomatic unless you are screening. What we found is that many people died from the early stage of kidney failure than from kidney failure itself.
“Everybody’s is focused on coronavirus now, but I can assure you that kidney disease currently in Africa is a much bigger problem. According to some studies, 20 out of every 100 people have one form of kidney disease or the other.
“We carried out a study on those of our patients who had stroke and discovered that 70 to 80 per cent of them have kidney failure while many died of heart failure or heart attack. A significant number are also diabetic or hypertensive. So kidney failure is a major problem among Africans.”
Further, Bamgboye who is the Clinical Director of St. Nicholas Hospital, Lagos, said “Africans are four times more likely to develop kidney failure than individuals from another part of the world, and yet we can’t deal with it.
“The best we can do is to invest more on prevention, to do that, we must recognise things that lead to kidney failure such as hypertension, diabetes, inflammation of the kidney, infection like hepatitis B and C, HIV among others. Once we identified them, we need to screen and manage them appropriately.”
Speaking on the theme, “Chronic kidney Disease: Stop the Epidemic in Africa” Bamgboye said kidney failure is not recognised by the National Health Insurance Scheme, “policymakers, stakeholders are less informed about the significance and magnitude of the problem that kidney failure is in Nigeria. “We are not doing enough and we need to do a lot more.”
Corroborating his views, Head, Nephrology Unit, Nelson Mandela Medical School, South Africa, Prof. Alain Assounga said the challenges of kidney failure in South Africa was similar to what Nigerians experience in the area of care.
“The care of kidney failure is a big challenge in South Africa because we have two worlds in one country. People living in certain cities have access to the best facilities compared to anywhere in the developed world while those in the rural area are in third world countries.
“As a country, our major challenge is to improve access to care. If you live in the city you get the service, our mission is to ensure that treatment is available in every part. Dialysis is not covered; we offer dialysis for those who qualified for a transplant which is about 20 per cent of those screened. That is a challenge we are having.”
On his part, Consultant Nephrologist at Freeman Hospital, University of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Dr. Esther Getambu disclosed that those covered by NHIS have access to free dialysis irrespective of how long they may need it,
“In Kenya, if you are registered under NHIS, you are entitled to free dialysis; it doesn’t matter for how long you need it. We are working to ensure that transplant is also covered; the NHIS also cover the cost of some section of transplant in the public hospital.”
Speaking, Professor and Consultant of Internal Medicine & Nephrology, Cairo University, Prof. Mohamed NasrAllah, said that the focus of the government of Egypt was to achieve universal health coverage, “we are also working on a partnership with the private sector to deliver quality healthcare.
“One of the things we can boast of is that we have full government sponsorship of dialysis. Dialysis is free for everyone three times a week and it has been ongoing for some times. What we are doing now is to introduce some equipment for dialysis. We also do transplantation at less cost than most Africa countries while our private hospital bill is cheaper. The government is supporting in the area of drugs for transplantation.”
The kidney Foundation for Africa, founded by Late Dr Bose Peter is designed to create awareness and educate the public about the causes, prevention and gains of early detection of chronic kidney disease and kidney failure.