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Kidney failure, treatment and high cost of the drugs in Kenya

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John Githunguri, 32, still remembers the day he was diagnosed with kidney failure at Kenyatta National Hospital – the largest referral facility in the country.

Visiting many clinics – after he developed symptoms such as general body weakness, loss of appetite, muscles pull – disappointed Githunguri says that health facilities gave wrong drugs because of poor diagnosis.

Kidney disease

“When I discovered that I got kidney disease it was one of the worst news I have ever had. It just started with weakness, getting very tired, muscle pull, lack of appetite.

I went to Kenyatta National Hospital and discovered I had kidney failure. Some of the clinics I visited said that I was suffering from typhoid, malaria, and amoeba”, he remembers sadly.

The drugs for these common ailments, he says, never helped him. Ultimately, he went through a kidney transplant, the donator being his brother. Kidney drugs, he notes, are very expensive.

A person has two choices – to go for dialysis or take drugs.

His pocket-sized salary wasn’t enough for the medication and on this backdrop, he opted to seek aid in social media. The kidney patient posted his predicament on Twitter.

Seeking financial support

“My name is john Githunguri. 32 years old and I am looking for a job. I have a diploma in Public Relations and over 6 years of experience in public service.

I am looking for a job to help me in buying my kidney post-transplant drugs. Any leads will be highly appreciated”, reads the post.

He says it reached a point where buying drugs became a luxury and instead of suffering in the dialysis bed alone, he let the agony off the chest by publicly calling for help.

According to Dr. Srinivasa Murthy, Kidney Specialist, Kidney disease, like other sicknesses can be inherited.

Lifestyle diseases such as pressure, high blood pressure and diabetes – after 35 years – if neglected or not properly treated contribute to kidney failure.

Dr. Srinivasa adds that primary healthcare providers should be very alert for kidney symptoms because some health service providers mistakenly give wrong medication which in turn complicates the matter. 90 percent of the symptoms, he adds, aren’t direct.

“Kidney ailment is common all over the world and Kidney disease doesn’t mean failure, a problem will be there.

Just like obesity, blood pressure and diabetes, kidney sickness is a lifestyle disease which is expanding across the globe”, notes Dr. Srinivasa adding that a better healthy lifestyle will help.

Regulating pharmacies

Drugs bought over the counter like diclofenac at some point risk a person developing kidney failure.

On this basis, the kidney specialist says that pharmacists must be regulated so that they don’t give dangerous drugs.

With endless toothache, John could frequent the use of diclofenac painkiller, a matter he fully regrets till today. Health complications associated with the painkiller are far and wide worse.

We all know of people who, with slight headaches, rush to pharmacies to purchase painkillers – over-the-counter drugs – a situation Murphy discourages.

“Simple complaints need to be addressed but every simple headache and tummy pain, you don’t need run to a doctor”, summarizes Murphy.

The cost of kidney disease treatment and maintenance is quietly expensive and on average, a person spends KE 27,000 for drugs and clinics. The doctor has to check on a regular basis.

One kidney functioning

Donators of kidneys, the specialist says, shouldn’t feel afraid and that the function of the remaining kidney is enough to sustain the body.

Fortunately, the remaining kidney, in a period of months or a year, the size increases and this compensates for a donated kidney.

The donator, however, should be careful and consider a regular visit to the physician to check blood pressure and other conditions annually.

The bottom line is to constantly engage a doctor for any underlying medical issue that may contribute to kidney failure.

In case a failure happens, a kidney transplant is a good option and for best matches or related organs, the general cost is commonly down.