Lack of knowledge slows early detection of kidney problems

Ignorance among the public about their health and a shortage of human resource is stopping Kenyans from benefitting from the available renal technology and skills, a veteran physician has said.

Prof Seth Ouma McLigeyo, among the team that conducted the first renal transplant in the country in 1978, said Kenya has made tremendous steps in strengthening its kidney care but the public is still ignorant on many health issues.

He spoke to the Nation at a free medical camp organised by Kenya Renal Association in partnership with Nairobi Hospital to mark the World Kidney Day.

At the camp, 101 people had their urine, blood pressure and sugar tested for free while 16 were sent for further investigation because their urine had traces of blood or sugar, signs of infection or impaired kidney function.

Dr Rebecca Karanja, a physician at Nairobi Hospital, said some of the people whose blood pressure and sugar levels were found wanting were unaware that there was something wrong with their body.

She said: “Because they do not know, they do not go for tests.”

The Nation sought the opinion of 17 random people who, in their 30s and 40s, had never gone for any basic check-up, let alone the urinalysis test.

Dr Ahmed Kalebi, a pathologist, said it is recommended that even a person with no history of disease goes for check-up at least once a year.

Mr Jared Ongong’a said he failed to go for the test because it was expensive: urinalysis costs about Sh150 in public hospitals and Sh600-Sh700 in private laboratories.

Kenyans with kidney disease have options of places for dialysis as they wait for transplantation, which usually takes place at Kenyatta National Hospital, Moi Training and Referral Hospital in Eldoret, the Aga Khan University Hospital and Nairobi Hospital.

So far, more than 300 transplants have taken place in KNH alone under Dr McLigeyo, urologist Prof Ngugi Mungai and Prof Anthony Were.

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