(Global Event, News)
(By Temitope Obayendo)
As Nigeria joined the rest of the world to celebrate this year’s World Kidney Day on 13 March, the Nigerian Association of Nephrology (NAN), Lagos branch, has warned Nigerians on the need to reduce their risks of developing kidney disease.
The nephrologists kick-started the campaign with a health walk from Allen Roundabout in Ikeja to the state secretariat, creating awareness on the disease and educating the masses on the importance of physical exercises for general fitness.
At the secretariat, the group conducted free medical screening for hundreds of civil servants and passers-by. Beneficiaries had their urine, blood pressure and blood sugar levels tested, among others. Necessary counselling and prescriptions were also given after the screening.
Speaking on the campaign, Dr. (Mrs) Bakare, a consultant nephrologist at the Alimosho General Hospital who was a key participant, said the essence of the campaign was to enlighten the public about kidney diseases, care of the kidney, risk factors in developing kidney diseases, and general ways of preventing kidney infections.
“This is our own effort in serving the Nigerian teeming populace,” she said. “We do medical screening by testing urine: which has a lot of information for the kidney; check blood pressure, because hypertension is a risk factor; we also check blood sugar, since diabetes is a risk factor too; we also check weight and height, to know those who are overweight.”
When asked about the statistics of Lagos residents with kidney diseases, the consultant responded by lamenting the shortage of nephrologists in the state, describing it as a major limitation in gathering credible data on the incidence of kidney diseases in the state.
“We do not have enough nephrologists to handle the different state hospitals. Presently, we have six of us employed by the state government: three in LASUTH, two in Gbagada and one in Alimosho. So imagine having to care for the population of more than 18 million with just six nephrologists! It is not quite easy. Due to our busy schedule, we hardly have time for research work.”
However, drawing inference from her own experience of running two clinics a week, with each clinic having about 60 patients with hypertension and diabetes, she said, on the average, about 120 Lagosians are diagnosed of various kidney ailments per week.
On the results of the screening exercise, Bakare explained that patients deemed to require treatment would be referred to the nearest general hospital; while those with abnormal weight would be placed on lifestyle modification programmes.
A major highlight of the campaign was the disclosure of the eight golden rules of reducing risks of kidney disease, namely: keep fit and active; keep regular control of your blood sugar level; monitor your blood pressure, eat healthy, reduce your salt intake and keep your weight in check; stay hydrated, do not smoke; do not take over-the-counter pills on a regular basis; and get your kidney function checked if you have one or more of the high risk factors.