Ten percent of population suffers from kidney problems: Study
KATHMANDU, March 10: Although the government has announced free dialysis for kidney patients soon, the number of kidney specialists available in the country is dismally low.
According to the Ministry of Health (MoH), 2,000 kidney patients have received free dialysis for the last four months. The number of kidney patients needing dialysis is estimated to be increasing at the rate of 3,000 each year.
“There are a large number of new kidney patients every year,” said Prof Rajani Hada, a kidney specialist at Bir Hospital. “Many people with kidney trouble are unaware of the problem and don't come to hospital until it is too late,” she added.
According to an international study carried out in Nepal by Dr Sanjeev Sharma, 10 percent of the people are suffering from kidney problems. It is reported that there are 200 kidney patients requiring dialysis per 1 million population in South Asia.
The number of kidney specialists is not enough in the country. Dr Hada informed that there are only 35 kidney specialists in Nepal. However, MoH does not have clear-cut data on the number of nephrologists and urologists. “The number of kidney specialists should be higher than 35. They might not have included urologists [in the count],” said an MoH official.
Altogether 43 government and private hospitals, including Bir, Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, National Human Organs Transplant Center and some zonal hospitals, have been providing dialysis services. But the government hospitals outside Kathmandu Valley are unable to provide a smooth service due to lack of dialysis equipment and competent manpower, said sources at MoH.
According to MoH, a dialysis costs about Rs 2,500 and a patient usually needs dialysis three times a week. The cost of a kidney transplant is about Rs 500,000. The government says that free kidney transplants will be available at the Human Organs Transplant Center, Bir and TUTH from April 14 onward.
Dialysis services were started in 1987 from Bir Hospital. Dr Hada said preventive measures against kidney disease are annual urine tests, avoiding obesity, maintaining normal blood pressure and drinking enough water. “The causes of kidney disease are genetic disorder, malnutrition, diabetes, hypertension, and high intake of saturated fats,” she said. Saturated fat is found in high amounts in many dairy and meat products and also some vegetable products like coconut and palm oil
“Obesity is the cause of many diseases such as kidney problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, kidney stones and cancer,” she explained. “So we have to try to avoid junk foods and exercise regularly.”
World Kidney Day was marked across the world on Thursday around the theme of 'Kidney Disease and Obesity: Healthy Lifestyle for Healthy Kidneys'.