By Netho Francisco
and Tatenda Gapa
A SIGNIFICANT number of people in the country suffer from chronic kidney disease, but are unaware of the condition due to ignorance and fewer treatment centres for diagnosis, the newly formed organisation, Kidney Association of Zimbabwe (KAZ) has said.
Medical practitioners have since moved away from the term ‘renal failure’ to ‘Chronic Kidney disease’ in a bid to increase understanding of the condition.
Chronic Kidney disease results when the function of the kidney is compromised as result of the loss of the functional units of the kidney or nephrons by diseases such as hypertension, high blood pressure and diabetes.
According to the KAZ, there are more than 300 people depending on dialysis and many more that have not yet been diagnosed and only three specialists, known as Nephrologists, to cater for those affected in the country.
The KAZ chairman, Lysias Sibanda said the trust will lobby for an increase in personnel that will offer services and establishment of more centres to treat kidney ailments.
“The main objectives of KAZ is to bring about awareness of the prevalence of kidney failure as a disease and its causes, to educate the community on early detection of the problem and ways in which prevention can be achieved and symptoms of kidney failure and treatment options available,” said Sibanda.
“The national associations have become handy the world over in support of governments in the provision of services of patients affected.”
Presently the biggest centre offering services to affected people is Parirenyatwa Hospital.
The kidney is an organ that comprises a million tubular units whose function is mainly filtering and processing the filtrate to urine.
The optimal kidney function is assured as long as the kidney is receiving the desired amount of blood supply which is 20 percent of what the heart is pumping.
This amounts to 180 litres of blood passing through the kidney per day producing 1,5 litres of urine per day.
Sibanda said there was need to set up centres of treatment to cut the prohibitive costs being incurred by those suffering from kidney problems.
A kidney transplant costs an average of US$24 000 in South Africa, while costs are slightly lower in India.
“Currently all kidney transplants are being done out of Zimbabwe, more specifically in India and the costs are prohibitive as they include airfares,” Sibanda said.
“We will facilitate workshops and congresses on kidney diseases at which the review of best practices, technology and treatment for the disease are discussed and recommended and ensure that available treatment (dialysis) meets minimum standards and to ensure that drugs related to that condition are readily available especially to the underprivileged,” he said.
Sibanda said the association will work towards creating a register for people suffering from kidney disease and that of possible donors.
“We want to set up a register of people suffering from kidney failure and consequently a register of people who need kidney transplant (as well as) set up a register of kidney donors, that is people who are prepared to donate kidneys should they be involved in catastrophic accidents,” he said.
According to Nephrologist Luke Muchemwa, Chronic Kidney diseases if not detected, can cause sudden death to a seemingly healthy person.
“People must regularly go for checkups and live a healthy lifestyle as anyone, children included, can suffer from kidney diseases,” said Muchemwa
The KAZ will be officially launched in March during the World Kidney Day (WKD).
The WKD is an annual global awareness and education event, held on the second Thursday of March.
It provides the perfect opportunity to get out in the community and share the WKD message with friends, family and people.
World Kidney Day began in 2006 and the global campaign highlights a particular theme every year, which for 2015 will be ‘Kidney Health for All’.