NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 11- Government statistics indicate that an estimated one million people in Kenya suffer from kidney ailments, 600,000 of whom are youths.
Medical Services Minister Anyang’ Nyong’o said on Thursday that diabetes was now the most common cause of kidney failure in the country.
Speaking during celebrations to mark the 25th anniversary of the Kenyatta National Hospital’s (KNH) renal unit, Professor Nyong’o said there was need to develop and maintain a well running kidney transplant program in the hospital to improve kidney transplants in Kenya.
“Given the fact that today we have in this hospital six patients who have had a kidney transplant in the last one week, if we can have this every week for the next two years many more Kenyans will not go to India or South Africa for kidney transplant and spend a lot of money,” the Minister said.
“It costs not less than Sh2 million to have a successful transplant in India and when you come back you still have to be looked after by our own medical service personnel,” he said.
He also said the government would over the next one year put up dialysis machines in all provincial hospitals and heavy population district hospitals to ease the burden on KNH.
KNH Chief Executive Officer Dr Jotham Micheni said the youth account for 60 percent of patients on dialysis at the hospital.
“There is an increasing demand for dialysis and with this increase it means that Kenyans are spending a lot of money on their healthcare. We shall partner with the private sector and the government so that we can see how best we can reduce the cost of dialysis in this hospital,” Dr Micheni said.
He said currently it costs about Sh13,000 for the recommended three sessions of dialysis per week for a single patient.
“It is therefore paramount that we now put our efforts in prevention rather than treatment,” he said.
Dialysis is a procedure that is a substitute for many of the normal duties of the kidneys and allows an individual to live a productive and useful life, even though their kidneys no longer work adequately.
Dr Micheni recommended that people go for regular screening, control blood pressure and sugar levels and also adopt healthy eating to keep the kidneys healthy.
“There is need to quit habits such as smoking and using drugs that can damage the kidneys,” he said.
He said there were 13 dialysis machines working to capacity at the hospital and about 35 patients were dialysed daily out of the 150 that required the treatment.
The kidneys are important organs of the body whose duties include removal of waste and excess fluids from the blood, balancing chemicals in the blood and producing hormones that control blood pressure. Gradual or sudden failure of these functions results in chronic or acute kidney disease.
“It is unfortunate that symptoms of kidney disease manifest themselves in the late stages when there has already been extensive damage to the kidneys,” Dr Micheni said.