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    Friday, 15 March 2019

    Kidney Health for Everyone Everywhere

    A patient on dialysis.
    Dr Luke Kudakwashe MUCHEMWA

    This year’s World Kidney Day’s theme is Kidney Health for Everyone Everywhere. Roughly worldwide the population size of Africa has kidney disease from diverse causes.  Chronic kidney disease accounts for deaths the population size of Botswana annually in the world. Acute kidney injury affects around 30 million people whose majority are in resource challenged countries with an about 1.7 million dying annually from this cause. This is further compounded by the realisation that the numbers are increasing, since we are in the source challenged part of the world our population is not spared.
    The commonest cause of kidney disease are diabetes and hypertension. However, in our countries we also have high burden of infectious diseases like HIV, Malaria and Hepatitis, diarrhoeal diseases like cholera and typhoid which also cause deaths from Acute Kidney Injury or Chronic Kidney Disease. Disparities in access to health further compound the situation. Rural Urban divide is a good example. People die in villages with cause of death unknown.
    While the central government is trying its best to widen access to health the resources tend to be cut to health services sector with emergence of basic water washed and water based disease conditions as we have seen recently. Kidney diseases once established can be very expensive to treat. Unfortunately, the treatments required are imported, this create a nightmare for patients and health providers as witnessed in 2008 where dialysis patients died in large numbers for lack of  treatment, the renal Unit in Harare had to be closed because of this. We only hope that this time around with current the Minister who has a passion in this area the 2008 disaster can be avoided.
    The current situation on the ground is comprehensive treatment which was available a few months has negatively affected with shortage of medicines and dialysis consumables. Dialysis Service providers are in difficult position let alone the patients affected. A safety net is required urgently in this area.
    The options left for patients and health providers which include government is to raise awareness through the World Kidney Day forum. This year is the 12th year anniversary since it was promulgated. We have gone a step further in Zimbabwe by decentralising the main event which is currently in Mutare. Communities should also be encouraged to participate outside the main event to continuously raise awareness. Other countries and communities take March as a kidney awareness month.
    The message for awareness include change in lifestyle to reduce risk and screening for kidney disease in all age groups. There is also need to ask government to provide tools for screening like BP machines with appropriate cuffs for all ages in all hospitals. The current projects involving treatment of kidney patients should not be allowed to collapse. The current providers of renal services including dialysis have to be supported especially those who provide services to the low income bracket and civil servants. Chitungwiza project on kidney transplantation should continue to be supported.
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