Thursday, 15 March 2018

Experts Urge Government to Take up Treatments, Dialysis to Save Lives

Rebecca Ejifoma
Beneficiaries undergoing free screening on World Dialysis Day at Healing Stripe Hospital, VI Lagos
Medical experts and nephrologists have urged the federal government to come up with a policy to help patients who require dialyses by taking up treatments such as dialysis and transplants as other African countries do in order to keep Nigerians from dying.

The experts made this clarion call at the World Kidney Day on March 8 organised by Healing Stripe Hospital on free screening and dialysis and health awareness talk for women and girls held at the hospital premises at Victoria Island, Lagos.

According to a Consultant Nephrologists, Dr. Adewunmi Adebowale, “It is time government came up with a policy or whatever they could do to help patients who require dialyses.” Adding, he said other countries already practice free or subsidised dialysis. “Some African countries subsidise dialysis. In Ghana, the first five dialysis is free. That's how much they can afford. In Côte de' voire, all dialyses are free. Government pays for or subsidise it including Tanzania and Pakistan.”

He advised the Nigerian government to either include it in the National Health Insurance Scheme or find a way to help patients with chronic kidney diseases so that there will be more of such people surviving.

Now, while dialysis costs between 30,000 and 35,000 naira, the expert expressed that an average Nigerian could not afford dialysis for a week going by the minimum wage. “By the time kidney disease happens, it results in enormous medication. It can result in dialysis and in transplant. One session of dialysis is between #30,000 and #35,000. And an individual does, at least, three a week. Do you know what that means in one week how much more what it comes up with in one month?”

Adebowale continued: “It's just dialysis not to talk of buying drugs and injections. How many Nigerians can afford that? What is the minimum wage of an average Nigerian. Till now, some states have not started paying 18,000. So, you can see that an average Nigerian may not be able to afford one dialysis. This means the person will die. And many have died.

Sadly, statistic shows that 17,000 new cases of kidney failure are diagnosed annually in Nigeria while an estimated incidence of kidney disease is 100 per 1,000,000 population.

Therefore, the healthcare practitioner said this was a good time to call on the government. “I'm not asking them to increase salary. But they should take up treatments such as dialysis and transplants as done in some many countries”.

However, he noted that there were people who dialysed for up to 18 years. You can imagine 35000 naira three times a week for 18 years. And I have seen it. Transplant average cost about 10million naira. How many Nigerians can afford that? Then you will talk of the money for the drugs after the transplant which is not part of the 10m naira.

With the theme, ‘Kidney and Women Health', Adebowale said this enlightenment campaign was set up for people to be aware that they could care better for their kidney, especially women and their health. “In this environment, proper attention is not given to women some of the time. So, we are highlighting the importance that kidney disease is not only a man’s problem. In fact, it is more in the women than in the men.”

Following this findings, he urged every woman, especially pregnant ones, to eat balanced diet. “There are two things women do that men cannot do: pregnancy. This is a lot of load on the women. So many women develop a lot of conditions or hypertension during pregnancy. As a result, the important thing to do is check."

He spoke further that women might be hypertensive before pregnancy, during pregnancy while some continue to be hypertensive even after pregnancy. All of these conditions, he said, could be managed with appropriate medication and lifestyle changes. “Everybody should check his status. There is no way you can look at a person and know he or she is hypertensive. That is why they are called silent killers.”

Speaking, also, at the awareness campaign, Doctor in Charge of Healing Stripe, Ezinne Onyemere, said it shows that women are at high risk of kidney disease. that is why we are promoting and creating awareness for it among women.

Accordingly, she said women always had to do things that the men don't do. So, for a woman to have a womb, she can give birth to children, the kidney gets under pressure during pregnancy.

Because the woman has short ureter, she is exposed to more Urinary Track Infection (UTI), which can cause and send infection to the kidneys. “Women, also, have close relationship between where they pass faeces and where the ureter is. So, you find out that for the woman, the risk for a kidney disease is much more than the man.”

Sadly, the expert said pregnant women are at risk of kidney disease because they are pregnant. Other factors that lead to kidney disease in them are: haemorrhage. “During delivery, a woman could lose blood (hemorrhage), which affects the kidney. When you have postpartum hemorrhage, the kidneys are affected because the woman loses a lot of blood during delivery and preeclampsia, which comes from hypertension in pregnancy.

While calling on women to learn to speak out and get checked, the Head Specialist said government needed to pay attention to healthcare, saying if people are not healthy they cannot work, “The economy wouldn't be as driven as it is”.