Jimoh Sarat Ayomide
Published 11 March 2022
Chronic Kidney Disease has been proved to be the sixth major cause of death globally with over 20 million people diagnosed with different stages of kidney disease in Nigeria. This disease is majorly found in adults over 40 years and above. CKD is not usually detected at the early stages because they show little or no symptoms. The advanced stage where it is detected is known as End Stage Renal Disease. The World Kidney Day is an annual global health awareness campaign which is celebrated every second Thursday in March that aims to increase knowledge about healthy lifestyles, risk factors, and ways to cope with kidney diseases. The day was first commemorated on March 9, 2006 by 66 countries and increased to 88 in the following two years. This celebration was initiated by the joint committee of “International Society of Nephrology and International Federation of Kidney Foundations. Health care providers, Non-Governmental Organisations and medical students create programmes or campaigns to educate the public about the functions of the kidney, chronic kidney diseases, the preventions and treatment, as well as how to maintain good health.
The theme of the 2022 World Kidney Day is, “Kidney Health for All”, with the aim of closing knowledge gaps and improving kidney health by increasing public awareness and education about kidney care.
There are two kidneys in the human body each about the same size located in the abdomen which are responsible for removing wastes, toxins or drug, excess fluid from the body(by filtrating), releasing hormones that helps to regulate blood pressure, osmolarity, body pH, etc. These wastes or toxins are all removed as urine.When all these functions of the kidneys are altered or damaged, this leads to ‘Chronic Kidney Disease’. The term “Chronic Kidney Disease” is used when one or both of the human kidneys have lost its function over a period of months or years. However, if one of the kidneys stops functioning, the other may still be able to perform its regular function.
Globally, diabetes and hypertension are the main causes of chronic kidney disease. Another kidney dysfunction is caused by glomerulonephritis (infection or damage of the tiny filters in our kidney). Relatively, consumption of toxic herbal mixtures also known as native drinks or “agbo” or when taken in excess causes nephrotoxicity (decrease in the kidney function as a result of medications and chemical toxicity), family history of kidney failure, use of bleaching creams and soaps containing mercury. Other causes include consuming polluted water, misuse of analgesics etc. Most patients of chronic kidney disease are asymptomatic during the early stages of the disease. Unfortunately, a vast majority of patients with kidney failure present at the advanced stage of the disease with symptoms like dark or bloody urine, persistent itching, frequent urination especially at night, decrease in cognitive alertness, high blood pressure, difficulty in breathing, swelling in the feet or hands etc.
A permanent cure for kidney failure has not been found yet but continuous treatment such as dialysis or kidney transplant is used in maintaining the functions of the kidney. Dialysis confers temporary treatment which involves the removal of toxins, waste products and excess fluids from the blood when the kidney cannot perform its normal function. On the other end, kidney transplant involves the placement of another kidney usually by a donor at the lower abdominal cavity connected to the bladder and blood vessels. In most cases, the original kidneys are not removed but if the condition is severe, removal of the person’s original kidneys is recommended.
Maintaining and living a healthy lifestyle is a strong preventive measure to reduce the risk of chronic kidney disease. Eating healthy, reducing intake of processed foods, fat rich food, salty diet and alcohol, being physically active, managing high blood pressure are all important. Patients with diabetes should keep their sugar level under control, going for periodic medical check-ups or screening (for early detection) are all ways we can curb this disease and reducing the burden on one’s family or society. Consequently, the National Health Insurance Scheme in Nigeria should provide adequate coverage for CKD patients as most of the patients undergoing dialysis treatment use their personal income and savings, which later predisposes them to selling properties, borrowing or taking of loans. This in turn leads to withdrawal of the patient from health care facility due to the high cost of treatment and the price of undergoing a kidney transplant is quite not affordable for an average family in Nigeria.
The chances of CKD being prevented, detecting earlier or cured are higher when a reliable and appropriate healthcare service is available. Governments, healthcare providers, and stakeholders should work together to bridge the gap in providing the public with accurate information about kidney care in order to reduce the risk and burden of CKD in the future.
Ms Jimoh is a 200 level pharmacy student, University of Ilorin
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