By Tatenda Charamba
Zimbabwe records 1 000 cases of kidney failure every year yet only 700 of those are on dialysis, Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa has said.
Speaking at the 12th annual commemoration of World Kidney Day at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals in Harare last week, Dr Parirenyatwa said a number of people could not afford the life saving services.
World Kidney Day is commemorated on the second Thursday of March every year.
“Only 700 of the 1 000 cases recorded every year are on dialysis, leaving a huge gap in need,” Dr Parirenyatwa.
“Ten percent of the population worldwide is affected by chronic kidney disease (CKD). CKD is the third most rapidly increasing cause of global mortality. Worldwide, five million people are expected to be on dialysis by 2030.”
This year’s commemorations were held under the theme; “Kidney Disease and Obesity.”
Dr Parirenyatwa said the commemorations were essential as they helped in raising awareness of the condition.
“This awareness is all about preventive behaviours, risk factors and how to live with a kidney disease,” he said.
“We do this because we want kidney health for all. Chronic kidney disease is increasingly being recognised as an important area of non-communicable diseases due to its strong association with cardiovascular disease and relation to diabetes, hypertension and obesity.
“The ultimate solution to kidney failure is kidney transplant and Government has identified Chitungwiza Central Hospital to do that.”
In Zimbabwe, kidney transplants are expected to resume soon, since abandonment in 1992, at Chitungwiza Central Hospital.
The project will save large sums of money in foreign currency as renal patients will no longer need to travel to South Africa, India and other countries for transplants.
World Health Organisation representative Dr David Okello illustrated the pivotal role played by kidneys in the human body.
“Our kidneys are vital for life, supporting the elimination of toxins and excess water from our bodies as well as controlling blood pressure, facilitating the production of red blood cells and keeping our bones healthy,” he said. “The exact burden of kidney disease is not known because many people with early stage disease are not aware. But it is estimated that about 8 to 14 percent of the adult population have some form of chronic kidney disease and the burden is growing,” said Dr Okello.
The only treatment for kidney ailment is dialysis.
Dialysis is expensive in Zimbabwe with most hospitals charging about $80 per session, while private hospitals charge $240.
A patient requires three sessions per week.