There is something eerily familiar with World Day anything. It is usually a congregation of dehydrated people ready to march along the streets of the city in the sun, screaming their lungs out about one cause or the other. When I was seventeen or thereabout, my father asked me to compose a poem towards World Aids Day. Grab a water bottle and a chair, this will be lengthy.
See, dad has worked at Nairobi’s Wakulima Market since eons ago. He calls himself a farmer of sorts. I keep telling him he can barely bend with a Jembe in hand which cracks him up revealing a set of near-white teeth and a cavity. If you can ever see dad’s cavity when he laughs, then you are a damn good joker. I am child, I am.
He is a member of one Chama that had organized a day of awareness with regards to HIV/AIDS. It was International AIDS Day. The theme involved protection so I had to compose and recite a poem on prevention of HIV. Looking back, dad had too much faith in me. He also missed out an opportunity to discuss safe sex with me. No I was not sexually active by then but still, we should have talked ,yes?
Suffice it to say that we talked in the infamous African parents’ design.
Dad: ( one evening in a drunken mood) You! (pointing at my elder sister and I, mostly myself because I was the black sheep of the family) Go ahead and ruin your lives with men.
Me : (In my head) What the hell have I done?
Dad : Continue ignoring me and you will get pregnant and get diseases and then you die and make my enemies happy.
End. Of. Threat.
Also end of sex education.
When I was diving into the outlines of the World Kidney Day 2020, I wanted to find out what was going to be different this time. Why do we mark this day every other March but still keep diagnosing and losing people to various forms of Kidney disease?
Kidney disease as a non-communicable disease currently affects around 850 million people worldwide. One in ten adults has chronic kidney disease (CKD) . The costs of dialysis and transplantation consume 2–3% of the annual healthcare budget in high-income countries according to British renal society. In Kenya, our patients either do not get timely dialysis and transplantation or simply never get to know they are suffering from chronic kidney disease.
March 12th 2020 calls for Kidney health for everyone everywhere. This means that we are not only concerned with managing kidney disease but our aim is to prevent it from occurring and also from progression.
SO WHAT NOW?
You will have to agree with me that one of the most expensive diseases to manage in Kenya is Kidney Disease. Time and again charitable fund organisers have rallied behind one if not many a Kidney Disease patients. I have personally heralded these calls and asked you to chip in in one or many ways. I have written articles on #KidneyWednesday even going ahead to show you practical ways of supporting patients and families afflicted with a case of kidney ailment.
In a solemn decree we must agree that the disease burden is fast approaching emergency levels. My mantra as a nurse has always been ,’an informed patient is an excellent patient.’ That self-theory has been echoed by the National Kidney Foundation who are advocating for kidney health education for everyone. #TeamPhoenix, I will keep strumming the strings of this #KidneyWednesday guitar until you hear me out.
Prevention further entails the elimination of chances of chronic kidney disease. Management of high blood pressure, diabetes and structural malformations of the urinary system are among ways we can slow the chances of kidney disease presence.
For patients already on dialysis or on the way to transplantation, cardiovascular disease prevention is top of the nephrology team concerns. That with maintaining a life close to normal as possible is essential.
#TeamPhoenix, it would be vital to note that though Kenya offers twice weekly dialysis sessions to her chronic kidney patients, world-wide practice is thrice weekly. That is more effective in clearing as much toxic waste from the blood as possible.
Unfortunately, we can not be able to reach that standard owing to inadequate machines and poor uptakes (if any) of kidney transplantion, among other factors. What we therefore can do is salvage the remaining renal functions in an individual and maximise on that. Kidney disease can be prevented and progression to end-stage kidney disease can be delayed with appropriate access to basic diagnostics and early treatment.
My reciting a moving poem at Wakulima market on use of Condoms did not deter the transmission of HIV. Similarly, empty rhetoric on the need for ‘more’ with regards to Kidney disease won’t bear much fruit.
What we need a s a Sub Saharan Country is policies directed at education of not only the public but healthcare professionals. I think that is what they call Multi-service training. We desperately need it. This ensures not only consistency of care but also continuity. That means a Consultant at Doctor’s plaza will not eternally treat his patient for ‘stomach ulcers’ while indeed the patient has early stages of kidney disease. That will mean Nurses in the Maternity wing will take urine and blood pressure monitoring of mothers within the journey of antenatal to post-partum as serious as life and death because that is the clearest indicator of not only an infection but also kidneys’ well being.
That will allow my Paediatrician bestie to feel free to refer children to a nephrologist at the earliest opportunity without feeling condemned by her superiors. Her diagnosis investigated not castigated.
These efforts will jointly allow the medical team to speak a similar language as far as screening for and managing Kidney disease goes. In a nutshell,there is a desperate need to increase the awareness of the importance of preventive measures throughout populations, professionals and policy makers. Without these, the World Kidney Health Day will always be something to look forward to and to swiftly classify as a blurred memory year in, year out.
Take advantage of the free health screening that will happen in different hospitals next week in Kenya. Go have your blood glucose checked. Go have your blood pressure monitored. However do me a favour and take the advise you will receive seriously. Act on it. It is important.
Where will I be? I am glad you asked. I have a feeling I will join fellow Renal Nurses at Kenyatta National Hospital Grounds to mark this auspicious Day. Please say you will come. If not for anything, I can at least show you where your kidneys are located. Yes? Thank you!
Now friends, place your right hand on your chest or breast and repeat after me,”Kidney health for everyone, everywhere.”