“My grandmother died of kidney failure. That was way back in 1985,” My good friend paused sipped his tea and gazed right back at me. After a while I motioned him to continue. “Wasn’t there anything they could have done?” He gave me a faint smile. “I was five then and would never have known what was going on. But later I did ask–she had suffered for years from blood pressure,”he concluded.

The kidneys could not take it anymore and they could not afford a transplant. Even in those days, transplants were rare and expensive. I said sorry and he nodded his appreciation. So we sat there lost in our own thoughts pensive for a while and my mind wandered again to our country’s Kidney welfare.

Currently, about one in every 10 persons has some form of chronic kidney disease and about four million Kenyans are affected with a significant proportion of this population progressing to kidney failure.

It is estimated that 4.8 million Kenyans will be suffering from kidney disease by 2030. The two main causes of Kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure and these two account for about two thirds of the damage the others are obesity, smoking and high cholesterol level.

Let’s now look at the cost side of things. In the past years, the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) has made significant progress in supporting patients with chronic kidney disease, with payouts for treatment of kidney failure last year, increasing by 41 per cent, seeing the insurer pay up to Sh1.8 billion for dialysis. This was an increase from Sh1.24 billion spent in the 2016/2017 financial year, highlighting the burden of the procedure to insurers. A scrutiny of the benefits package utilisation report also shows that in the last half of 2018, NHIF paid a further Sh64.7 million towards kidney transplants, up from Sh21.7 million the previous year. This makes the procedure one of the top expenditure items in the health care benefits package.

Why the story and the stats you may ask. It’s because from these numbers it’s clear that the problem is only getting worse.Though one can argue that the awareness has also grown. It’s also because from the above there is something we can do before we start thinking of cure so here are a few tips

Control your blood sugar if you have diabetes.

Keep a healthy blood pressure.

Follow a low-salt, low-fat diet.

Exercise at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.

Keep a healthy weight.

Do not smoke or use tobacco.

Limit alcohol.

Remember diabetes and high blood pressure are the main causes of Kidney failure.So please keep these in check.

In other editions to come, we shall talk about the bionic kidney as the future of dialysis expands beyond the hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. Remember our lessons.

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