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Over 4M Kenyans have chronic kidney disease

14 March 2014, 12:56 Samuel Kisika

Nairobi – The Ministry of Health has raised concern over lack of initiatives to address the rising rate of kidney disease with epidemiological data suggesting that 4 million Kenyans have chronic kidney disease of which a good proportion progresses unnoticed to kidney failure.

The Director Kenya Medical Services, Dr. Francis Kimani who read the speech on behalf of Health CS, James Macharia in marking the World Kidney Day, organized by the Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) Foundation and Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), noted that majority of kidney diseases remain undiagnosed hence need for wide public awareness campaigns to offer free diagnosis aimed at slowing the disease progression to chronic end stage.

“Our community is currently enjoying improved health care which will translate into a higher life expectancy. This trend is likely to improve as we reap the expected benefits from the achievements of the MDGs and the strategies in Vision 2030,” said Macharia.

“The bad news is that without focused interventions like this one, the burden of kidney disease will rise with more people requiring dialysis and eventually kidney transplants. Currently, there is a huge unmet need for renal care in the country and the government has embarked on training personnel and in conjunction with county governments is setting up renal centers within the provincial hospitals,” he noted.

Macharia stated that this year’s theme, ‘Chronic kidney disease and aging’ was aimed at reminding the public that kidneys too age, noting that Chronic Kidney Disease can develop at any age but it becomes more common among those advancing in age.   

He cited that World Health Organization recently included chronic kidney disease as one of the major causes of morbidity and mortality in the world with an alarming rise in its prevalence.

Macharia also said that kidney diseases are silent killers affecting the quality of victim's life and urged people to observe healthy eating habits, regular physical exercises and controlling high blood pressure, diabetes and weight as ultimate ways of reducing the risk of kidney disease.

He further said that a group of 20 health care providers including doctors and nurses recently qualified from KNH after three months of training in specialized renal care - kidney treatment.

The Health CS noted that kidney transplants have increased tremendously in the nation within the last five years with a significant contribution from the private sector where an approximate of 100 patients are transplanted annually.

Despite such outstanding fight against kidney diseases, Macharia stated that issues related to the cost of the transplant procedure, access to post transplant medications and delays in adoption of relevant laws continue to undermine efforts of increasing access to the treatment procedure.

He stated that his ministry level and in conjunction with the Kenya Renal Association at the policy level has drafted the Organ and Tissues Donation law which awaits adoption to enhance kidney disease treatment although he observed that the legislation on kidney transplants remains the biggest barrier in the country.

Moreover, Macahria paid tribute to the corporate organizations such as the KCB Foundation, Novartis Pharma in partnership with KNH for being in forefront of sponsoring initiatives in renal health care by financing and capacity building that has seen over 110 patients benefit from kidney transplants in the last five years.

“I wish to recognize and pay great tribute to our heroes and heroines; Kenyans who have donated a kidney and brought hope and renewal of health to those with end stage renal disease. Kidney donation is harmless and does not reduce one's life span. I wish to encourage others to come forward and offer to donate their kidneys to their loved ones,” said Macharia.

“Let us join forces to raise awareness, encourage prevention and education to fight this disease and overcome this major public health issue,” he added.

World Kidney Day was established in 2006 with the objective of increasing awareness on the need for early detection, prevention and treatment of chronic kidney disease.

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