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Dealing with kidney health in Nigeria

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By Abraham Adekunle

Quest for kidney health equity in Nigeria: Insights from World Kidney Day 2024.

In the heart of Gashua, a Local Government Area (LGA) located in the northern area of Yobe State, Nigeria, the harrowing tale of Salisu Hauwa serves as a sad reminder of the formidable barriers obstructing access to kidney health care in the country. At 33 years old, Hauwa’s life took a dramatic turn when she was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (CKD) at the Yobe State University Teaching Hospital (YSUTH) in Damaturu. Her journey was marred by excruciating pain, relentless treatments, and ultimately and in the end, her demise, leaving her family shackled by insurmountable debt.

Hauwa’s narrative shows a larger, systemic issue plaguing Nigeria—the pervasive inequity in access to kidney health care. As the world commemorates World Kidney Day 2024 under the theme “Kidney Health for All–Advancing equitable access to Care and optimal medication practice,” the imperative to dismantle these barriers looms large. CKD, often referred to as kidney failure, exacts a heavy toll on global health, ranking as the 10th leading cause of mortality worldwide. In Nigeria, where data on CKD prevalence remains scarce, the burden of this non-communicable disease manifests acutely, particularly in regions like Gashua.

Understanding the issue of kidney disease in the country.

CKD, characterized by progressive deterioration of kidney function, necessitates vigilant management and, in advanced stages, interventions such as dialysis and transplantation. Dr. Baba Waru Goni, the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of YSUTH, sheds light on the dire scenario, remarking that Yobe State, alongside neighboring states like Borno and Jigawa, grapples with a disproportionate burden of CKD. He underscores the urgency of unravelling the root causes of this epidemic, citing collaborative efforts between YSUTH, the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, and University College London to investigate the diseases’ etiology. In response to the escalating crisis, concerted efforts have been marshalled to confront the multifaceted challenges impeding access to kidney health care in Nigeria.

The establishment of a committee by the Yobe State government, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) and international partners, signifies a pivotal step towards addressing the underlying determinants of CKD. Driven by a commitment to innovation and knowledge exchange, the committee’s collaboration with the Urology and Nephrology Centre (UNC) Mansoura in Egypt heralds a new era of capacity-building and expertise dissemination in renal care. However, financial barriers remain a formidable obstacle, rendering life-saving interventions such as dialysis prohibitively expensive for many Nigerians.

Charting a path towards equitable kidney care in Nigeria.

Dr. Goni elucidates the grim reality faced by patients, with the cost of a single dialysis session ranging from 30,000 to 50,000 Naira—a staggering sum in a nation grappling with widespread poverty. Consequently, individuals afflicted with end-stage renal disease confront a stark choice between financial ruin and imminent mortality. Amidst the labyrinth of challenges, glimmers of hope emerge through pioneering initiatives aimed at democratizing access to kidney care. The Yobe State Teaching Hospital’s provision of free dialysis services since 2017 stands as a testament to the transformative power of public-sector interventions in bridging healthcare disparities.

By alleviating the financial burden borne by patients, this initiative has catalysed a paradigm shift, ensuring that kidney health care is no longer a privilege reserved for the affluent few. Yet, the journey towards equitable kidney care remains fraught with obstacles, demanding a holistic approach encompassing awareness-raising campaigns, capacity-building initiatives, and policy reforms. The imperative to fortify primary healthcare infrastructure and expand community outreach programs underscores the pivotal role of preventive interventions in curbing the burgeoning CKD epidemic.

Related Article: Yobe and LUC team up against kidney disease

As Nigeria stands at the crossroads of progress and adversity, the clarion call for collective action resonates with renewed urgency. The Yobe State government, buoyed by nascent collaborations and institutional partnerships, must redouble its efforts to realize the vision of a kidney transplantation centre—a beacon of hope for countless individuals grappling with CKD. Moreover, sustained advocacy and resource mobilization efforts are indispensable in amplifying the voices of marginalized communities and effecting systemic change. As stakeholders converge to commemorate World Kidney Day 2024, let us reaffirm our commitment to forging a future where kidney health is a fundamental human right, not a luxury afforded to the privileged few. In the hallowed memory of Salisu Hauwa and countless others whose lives were tragically cut short by CKD, let us pledge to dismantle the barriers obstructing access to equitable kidney care, thereby heralding a new dawn of health and healing for all.

Related Link

World Kidney Day 2024: Website

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