Up to 10% of the world population are at risk of kidney disease. The situation is not different in Nigeria as studies showed similar trend among its rural and urban populace. While about 50% of patients with kidney disease die from heart diseases, the remaining percentage progress to kidney failure, requiring regular dialysis or transplantation to be alive.
In an interaction with theinteractors.com, a consultant nephrologist at Federal Medical Center, Umuahia, Dr Okwuonu noted that lots of people are unaware of the causes of Kidney diseases. He stated that, aside from hypertension, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, prostate cancer and chronic glomerular disease, a good number of kidney diseases arise from intake of herbal concortions. Also, poor attitude and belief which is rooted on patronage of unauthorized treatment for common medical illnesses is a threat to healthy kidney.
The implication is that, families of people who battle with chronic kidney diseases are exposed to huge financial cost and psychological challenges that comes with caregiving. Dr Okwuonu revealed that in Nigeria, the cost of treating Kidney diseases is enormous and out of reach to the average Nigerian. For instance, patients needs about 3 sessions of dialysis per week and a session costs about 35,000 to 40,000 naira, this figure is aside the cost of blood transfusion which should cost about 50,000 to 60,000 naira per session, hence a lot of people may die due to inability to pay the bills.
Another major challenge to kidney care is the overheard cost of running a Kidney Center. At the highly equipped Beatitudes Dialysis and Kidney Care Center located at Ezeogbulafor Street in Umuahia, it was discovered that the cost of running a world class Kidney care center requires hours of uninterrupted power supply. Dr Okwuonu noted that at least, 6 hours of power supply is required for a session of preparing for dialysis and the astronomical cost of diesel has severe negative implications on overheard cost.
He note that, steady rise in dollar rate and brain drain of requisite expert nephrologist who are fast departing from Nigeria due to the prevailing labour conditions, coupled with low technical expertise is a huge problem to Kidney center management. Specifically, he observed that “when a machine is faulty, we need to bring in expert engineers from Lagos and Abuja”, the cost of transportation and other logistics arrangement required in the purchase of machine and equipment takes its toll on the system. He however appealed that government can support kidney management by formulating policies such as free dialysis for specific number of times, a percentage payment of dialysis session for citizens, amongst others.
Dr Okwuonu also gave kudos to the Chief Medical Director of Federal Medical Center Umuahia, Professor Azubuike Onyebuchi for his sterling role in supporting the Kidney Care Center at FMC Umuahia which has yielded positive results; including the attainment of several successful kidney transplants.
(TO BE CONTINUED).