From Obinna Odogwu, Abakaliki
Medical doctors have listed Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) such as hypertension, diabetes and others as the main causes of kidney diseases. They also disclosed that many people in sub-Saharan Africa are prone to kidney disease because of some genetic alterations or mutilations that took place years back.
The doctors, under the aegis of Nigerian Association of Nephrology (NAN), stated these at a press conference held at Osborne La Palm Hotel, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State capital as part of activities lined up for its 31st national conference (NANCONF).
President of the group, Professor Ifeoma Ulasi, further disclosed that sub-Saharan Africa’s environment predisposes its people to kidney disease.
She said: “Unfortunately, many people in sub-Saharan Africa are prone to kidney disease because of some genetic alterations or mutilations that happened years back.
“Our environment fosters kidney disease: the hot sun and dehydration predispose us to kidney disease. We also engage in some practices that are inimical to our kidney health such as use of certain toxins – applied to the skin or taken orally.”
Ulasi, a professor of medicine at University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), who disclosed that the group was made up of doctors, nurses, engineers/technicians, and other fields like renal dieticians, said it had pooled its resources together to see that the prevalence of kidney disease was reduced to its barest minimum in the country.
She, however, regretted that government has not been helpful in that regard.
According to her, “s few years ago, the association put together renal care policy document, which we presented to the ministry, but not much has been made of it.
“In the past – late 1990s – a National Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) survey was done; but unfortunately it did not capture kidney disease. Sometime in 2006, another committee was constituted to carry out another national survey. Fortunately, this time we got the committee to consider kidney disease. However, rather sadly, the committee was disbanded.
“So, up till now, apart from the anecdotal reports from small studies, we do not have national data for key Non-Communicable Diseases. We are hopeful that the government would do something about this situation.”
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Local Organising Committee, Prof. Ngozi Ifebunandu, revealed that in addition to Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and hepatitis, other viruses such as Lassa fever and Ebola affect kidneys too.
“Viral diseases affect the kidney negatively. We have mentioned hepatitis viruses, HIV; but Lassa and Ebola and other viruses negatively affect the kidney. We talked about Lassa fever because we are in the Lassa belt here. We are lucky so far that we have not recorded many deaths as we usually do,” she stated.
Ifebunandu, a consultant nephrologist at the Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki (FETHA), revealed that if the people take care of their kidneys by drinking a lot of water and avoiding toxins, their kidneys would be strong enough to withstand viruses for a long time while treatments are being administered.
“If we carry out these directives issued earlier, even if anybody gets Lassa fever the person’s kidneys would not be at the edge to be thrown overboard immediately the person gets Lassa. So, we have many more people recovering because many of our people who succumb to Lassa fever die from abnormality from the kidneys,” she added.