NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 14 – As Kenya joins the rest of the world in marking World’s Kidney Day, the big challenge still remains the affordability of costly drugs required by the patients who have undergone kidney transplant.
After a successful transplant, a patient is kept under lifetime medication so as to keep the new kidney healthy and prevent the body from fighting the new organ.
Dr John Ngigi the Head of Renal Unit at the Kenyatta National Hospital on Thursday told Capital FM News that the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) should now consider catering for the drugs required after the transplant, since they are quite expensive with their cost ranging between Sh45,000 to 50,000 a month.
NHIF currently covers half a million for kidney transplants, but Ngige says this would be better if they went ahead to cater for the drugs.
“It would be good if NHIF continues paying for the drugs because if they don’t do that, those people who have done transplants… their kidneys will fail and they come back to dialysis,” said Ngigi.
Despite transplants being the best solution for kidney diseases, Dr Ngigi says patients still opt for dialysis.
According to Ngigi, the success of kidney transplant is 95 per cent; however the costly maintenance drugs have discouraged patients.
“NHIF is paying half a million for transplant, at the same time it’s fully paying for dialysis; this has forced people to prefer dialysis because even after the transplant, they will still need money for drugs,” he said.
He said that about 155 people seek dialysis services twice a week at the Kenyatta National Hospital, with those with chronic cases visiting daily.
Already the National Health Insurance Fund card is catering for dialysis at least two days a week which has come as a relief to kidney patients who couldn’t afford.
Kenyans have however been urged to get diagnosed and seek early treatment, at a time when the kidney burden stands at 5 Million countrywide, with about 4,300 Kenyans currently on dialysis.
According to statistics, the global burden now stands at 850 Million and 2.4 Million people die daily worldwide from kidney related diseases.
Major causes of kidney diseases are said to be high blood pressure and diabetes.
Some of the symptoms of kidney diseases include, fatigue, high blood pressure, loss of appetite, malaise, or water-electrolyte imbalance.