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Awareness on children with kidney failure still low

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Just the other day, NairobiNews highlighted a troubled father who is on the verge of losing his fifth child to kidney failure.

According to the report, Samuel Muigai Muraya lost his 15 year old son Harrison Muraya in 2010 to kidney failure.

Two years later, he lost two children, Dickson Njoroge and Winnie Njoki after a month to the same ailment.

Last year in June, another son Evans Waweru passed due to kidney failure resulting to his wife abandoning her family.

Currently, another son Eric Mburu is battling the same disease at their home in Dagoretti.

This is one case among many cases of parents losing their children to kidney failure ailments despite the fact that they are treatable in several public hospitals across the country.

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Previously perceived as old people disease, kidney failure is affecting hundreds of children in the country calling for more awareness campaigns about the dreaded ailment.

Moreover, the government through the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) covers for kidney treatment, that is inpatient and out patient renal dialysis and kidney transplant.

In its latest report by NHIF, Sh1.76 billion had been paid out for kidney treatment in the 2017/2018 financial year from the previous Sh1.24 billion in 2016/2017.

This indicates that the cases of kidney failures is increasing steadily with official data revealing around four million Kenyans are suffering from one form of renal failure.

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However, kidney failure awareness, especially in children, among Kenyan citizens and the healthcare workers is wanting.

According to Dr Philip Cheptinga, a consultant pediatric nephrologist in Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) about 292 children were on renal dialysis last year.

“Approximately 70 percent of those kids recovered very well and were discharged from the healthcare centre, we also did kidney transplant to six children” said Dr Cheptinga.

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Speaking to Business Today, Dr Cheptinga said that 40 children are currently on hemodialysis at MTRH and some require kidney transplant.

“This year we want to achieve a target of doing transplant to 20 children,” he said.

The nephrologist advices that early detection, early treatment and prevention can prevent hundreds of deaths of children due to kidney failure.

“Preventing kidney diseases can start as early as during the pregnancy. It is important that an expectant woman should go for ultra sound testing to check for malformation in soft tissue structure in the foetus,” he added.

Other prevention measures include avoiding use of tobacco and alcohol, exercising, healthy eating, losing weight and low intake of salt.

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In children, early detection during medical diagnosis and treatment can result in successfully treating kidney diseases.

Kidney diseases in children are caused by birth defects, infections such as malaria and pneumonia, trauma, hereditary and systemic diseases, urine blockage and Nephrotic syndrome.

“The awareness of kidney disease in children is also low in health workers as most children are discharged from hospitals without detection or checking for kidney failure,” said Dr Cheptinga.

Swelling of the body, fever, blood in urine, frequent urination, pain during peeing, bedwetting and blood pressure are symptoms for kidney failure in kids but more diagnosis is required to detect renal diseases.

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“Sometimes children die without even parents realizing that the child passed due to kidney failure. They assume it is infections like pneumonia, malaria when actually it is a renal disease,” added Dr Cheptinga.

In a bid to increase more awareness of renal failure in healthcare workers, University of Nairobi is running a program for training kidney specialists for adults.

In Kenya, there are only 23 kidney specialists for adults and five pediatric nephrologist.

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“At the end of this year we are expecting a cohort of four kidney specialist for adults, with children specialization we are yet to receive any,” said Dr Cheptinga.

He echoes that they are in the process of starting a fellowship of pediatric nephrology to increase the number of the specialist in kidney.

“On my Facebook platform that has more than 5,000 friends and followers who are active, every morning I share information on kidneys, how to keep them healthy and manage their ailments to create more awareness on the same,” said Dr Cheptinga.

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Brenda Gamonde
Brenda Gamonde
Brenda Gamonde is reporter with Business Today. Email: [email protected]
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