Dar es Salaam — Tanzania joined the globe in marking the World Kidney Day 2021 yesterday, with experts outlining measures that people need to take to prevent kidney-related complications.
Experts, who spoke to The Citizen said kidney diseases do cost households dearly because most people discover about their conditions after the disease had reached advanced stages. This year has been declared by the steering committee as the year of ‘Living Well with Kidney Disease.’
This is aimed at increasing education and awareness about effective symptoms management and patient empowerment.
Statistics show that ten percent of the global population have some form of kidney problems, according to Dr Onesmo Kisanga, head of the Kidney Unit at Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH).
However, Dr Kisanga noted that – although there were no recent statistics on the situation in the country – a 2004 study on kidney diseases found that 6.7 percent of the population had a chronic kidney problem, with the main reason being low awareness of kidney issues.
He said most chronic kidney patients seeking MNH treatment are those who have reached the fourth and fifth stages – and, hence, needing blood dialysis or kidney transplant. He said in stages one to three, the patient is tested, treated and recovers. Stages four and five are when the patient must be put on blood purification or kidney transplant.
“It is advisable for people to come forward for testing and treatment in the early stages,” said Dr Kisanga.
“Chronic kidney disease is complex and expensive but can be prevented or treated in the early stages,” he added.
Dr Muhiddin Mahmoud, an expert at the Kidney Unit, said at an advanced stage, the disease kills quietly because a person can have it up to 90 percent without seeing any symptoms. “This is why it is crucial to go for check-up, and contain the disease in its early stages,” he said.
He warned that those having high blood pressure and diabetes must check their sugar and salt intake. “Symptoms include swelling of the face (eyes), swelling of the legs, loss of appetite, nausea, becoming anaemic and fatigue,” said Dr Mahmoud.
The medics revealed that, at MNH currently, the number of people on dialysis was about 1,000 while 50 were about to undergo kidney transplants.
Meanwhile, the government says it aims at enabling 26 regional referral hospitals in the country to provide treatment for chronic kidney disease along with blood purification by 2025.
The Ministry of Health revealed on Wednesday that it has drafted a Bill that will be tabled in Parliament on community health insurance to help reduce medical costs, especially for patients with chronic kidney disease.
Health minister Dorothy Gwajima said the Bill, if passed by Parliament, would enable low-income citizens to afford medical expenses, including encouraging them to develop the habit of undertaking health check-ups regularly.