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World Kidney Day: Rwanda to focus on the 8 golden rules for prevention

Rwanda will on Thursday, March 11, join the rest of the world to mark International Kidney Day, with a focus on the eight golden rules for prevention of Chronic Kidney Diseases (CKD), officials have said.

Celebrated annually, the day is a global campaign that among others aims at raising the importance of kidneys to human life and to reduce the frequency and impact of kidney disease and its associated health problems worldwide.
In Rwanda, just like the other parts of the world, the day will be observed under the theme, ‘living well with kidney disease’.

Speaking to The New Times in an exclusive interview, Dr Grace Igiraneza, a Nephrologist at the University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK), noted that it is critical for people to be educated about CDK’s and how to prevent them, in order to curb kidney diseases in the country.

While there are no official statistics for the epidemic in Rwanda, Igiraneza estimates that there are currently 100 patients in the country on dialysis, and over 70 renal transplants patients.

Patients on dialysis are those who are at the end-stage of a renal disease.

“Treatment for these diseases is expensive not just in Rwanda but across the world. You will need more than Rwf25 million for a kidney transplant, and this is a very high amount.”

She added, “Even when a patient is on dialysis, they don’t have a lot of options, they will need to visit a treatment centre at least three times a week. For that service alone, you need over Rwf85,000.”

Rwanda currently has seven such centres that provide these services, with four in the capital and the rest upcountry, she said.

With this cost in consideration, Igiraneza points out that the best way to curb any form of CKD is to understand the prevention strategies.

“While the treatment of kidney disease is expensive, out of reach for many patients and requires a lot of resources especially renal replacement therapy, prevention remains the major weapon we can use to fight chronic kidney disease.”
She pointed out, “Most insurance don’t cover this, leaving health authorities with only one campaign; how do I prevent myself from kidney disease?, when is the right time to go for check-up?, this is what we are going to focus on mainly.”

CKD is a progressive loss in kidney function over a period of months or years.

Igiraneza explained that kidneys have about a million tiny filters, called nephrons. If nephrons are damaged, they stop working. When kidney function falls below a certain point, it is called kidney failure.

“Kidney failure affects the function of the whole body, and this can make one feel very ill. Untreated kidney failure can be life-threatening.”

Global context

Reliable statistics indicate that one in ten adults worldwide has chronic kidney disease and CKD is an independent risk factor for premature death.

Among the most common causes of kidney disease include High blood pressure (hypertension) and diabetes.

Experts say that the high blood pressure causes just over a quarter of all cases of kidney failure.

However, Dr Igiraneza pointed out that other less common conditions include inflammation (glomerulonephritis) or infections (pyelonephritis).

“Most people have no symptoms until CKD is advanced. A person can lose up to 90% of their kidney function before experiencing any symptoms. I have seen patients who come for treatment when they are on the final stage yet no symptoms are visible,” she said.

Signs of advancing CKD include swollen ankles and legs, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, decreased appetite, blood in the urine and foamy urine. People can also have difficulty in breathing if fluid has accumulated in the lungs.

The eight golden rules.

  • Keep fit, be active, exercise regularly
  • Eat a healthy diet, (low salt, low sugar, fiber rich diet)
  • Check and control your blood sugar
  • Take appropriate fluid intake
  • Don’t smoke (smoking is risk factor for kidney cancer)
  • Don’t take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory/pain-killer pills regularly
  • Get your kidney function checked regularly if you have any of the following ‘high risk’ factors:

·you have diabetes

·you have hypertension

·you are obese

·you have a family history of kidney disease