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Opinions of Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Columnist: Ashitey, Emmanuel Amarh

Understanding kidney disease and prevention by Firm health Ghana foundation

The key to preventing chronic kidney disease is early detection and aggressive intervention, while there's still time to slow down the progression hypertension and diabetes. Medical care with early intervention can change the cause of chronic kidney disease and help prevent the need for dialysis or a kidney transplant. The failure of one or both kidneys causes dangerous levels of fluid, electrolytes and wastes can build up in the body, thus resulting in various symptoms and complications which includes heart diseases, weak bones, anemia and other health conditions.

Throughout Ghana, thousands of people are unaware that they are at risk of developing kidney disease; hence, the illness is deemed a silent killer. This is because it develops without any warning symptoms. As the population gets older and as the occurrence of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and hypertension increase we find that the development of Chronic Kidney Disease is also increasing dramatically. Current statistics from the National Kidney Foundation Ghana over the past five years indicate a continual increase in reported kidney cases in Ghana. In 2012, over 3,612 kidney malfunction cases was reported, in 2011 – 2,687 cases, 2010 – 2, 593 cases, 2009 – 2, 387 cases and in 2008 – 2,435 cases were reported at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital alone. (Anon, 2012)

Kidney disease is a terminal one and very expensive to treat in Ghana. A weekly dialysis of a patient cost GH¢ 500.00 (USD$ 200.00) apart from the drugs that are used to control blood pressure and sugar levels. Unfortunately however, the National Health Insurance Scheme does not cover the renal therapy. The high cost of treatment coupled with terminal nature of the disease move the therapy from a medical to a socio-economic situation as most patients eventually die after their resource can no longer support the cost of treatment. For economically disadvantage people the start of the disease is the beginning of their end of life. Research has shown that, 10 percent of all deaths in medical wards at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital is due to chronic kidney diseases. Unfortunately, most patients are young (between 20 and 50 years) and belong to the economically active group. Renal failure starts slow and kills silently as its symptoms take a long time to show. It is mainly caused by progression of diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and the inflammation of the kidneys. Other causes include too much intake of alcohol, herbal medicines, smoking and aphrodisiacs of any kind and form.It is against this background that, Firm Health Ghana Foundation continues to advocate for early detection through screening and awareness creation through education. When the disease is detected early, treatment is cheap and very effective and the life of the affected person can be prolonged if not saved. Also if people are aware of the consequences of their lifestyle and the problems it could bring them, the wise one could change and may not be affected at all. Since the underlying factors that cause renal problems are lifestyle diseases.

Firm Health Ghana Foundation, founded in 2012 strives to develop initiatives that are safe to improve the lives of people affected by kidney diseases. The biggest challenge however remains for us to be able to reach the thousands of Ghanaians who do not know they have early kidney damage.

Preventive steps to keep your kidneys healthy include:
a) Keep blood pressure below 140/90 mm/Hg, but check with your health care provider for your appropriate target.
b) Stay in your target cholesterol range.
c) Eat foods lower in sodium.
d) Eat more fruits and vegetables.
e) Stay physically active.
f) Take your medications as directed. If you have diabetes, take these steps, too: Meet blood sugar targets as often as you can.

a) A one hour a week radio health program on Dynamite 88.9 fm. started in 2013.
b) Kidney Early Evaluation Project (KEEP) – This is a free community-to-community kidney screening exercise. Started in 2013.
c) World Kidney Day Celebration.
d) FIRMWalk 2015 – This is a monthly 5KM health walk with aerobics session and health talk segment. Started in May, 2015. Comes off every last Saturday of every month.
The address of the association is P. O. Box TKW 227, Tarkwa, Western Region - Ghana. Organization Telephone – (233) 24-424-3968
Website: -
The headquarters of the organization is in Tarkwa, Western Region, Ghana with its current location at Tamso, close to Estate Junction, Tarkwa. Western Region

Mobile Phone (233) 20-754-1684.