Machakos Level five hospital in collaboration with Angelica Medical supplies, hosted a free renal medical screening Wednesday, to help raise kidney awareness ahead of the World’s Kidney Day celebrated on March 14th every year.
The day was marked through a series of activities including a two-kilometre walk held at the hospital’s Helipad grounds and health talks to enhance renal awareness.
There was also free screening for different ailments and counseling services for deserving cases were also offered.
Those who attended the free camp had their blood sugar, blood pressure and body mass index tested besides receiving nutritional counseling.
“Health should be a top priority, and I urge all of you to ensure you get frequent screening to ensure early detection and treatment of chronic illness like cancer and kidney diseases,” said Ruth Nduku Mutua, the county executive for health and Emergency services.
The Angelica Medical Supplies Executive Director, Mary Matu told the press her company is working in close partnership with the ministry of health to ensure all level five hospitals in the country are equipped with dialysis machines.
Matu said so far the partnership has made great strides in making sure hundreds of patients, currently having renal challenges get attended to at the nearest government facility, without having to travel for long distances.
“Through our partnership with the Kenyan government, we have managed to equip all level five hospitals in the country with dialysis equipment making renal treatment accessible to the people at the grassroots level. This has eased the cost burden and time for patients who earlier on, had to travel to Nairobi to seek kidney treatment,” she said.
Fracister Mbesa, a 36-year-old mother of three expressed her joy at the new deal saying the move will now ease her burden of having to travel from Emali in Makueni County to Machakos for dialysis.
She has undergone nine sessions since she started in mid-January this year.
“I am glad for the efforts the county government has put forth. This is my last session here in Machakos as I have already been transferred to Emali. The distance is now quite short.” she said while at her bed in the renal unit at the facility.
Another patient, 34 year old Charles Mutua who has been diabetic since high school says the introduction of Universal Health Care (UHC) has indeed helped him since he could no longer continue with his job.
“My condition started when I became diabetic, then later on, I developed blood pressure problems which lead to kidney failure. I can no longer proceed with my casual jobs since I was ever feeling weak mostly after the session. However, thanks to NHIF, UHC and the Machakos renal unit life continues to be bearable,” he narrated.
According to records from the Ministry of Health, at least 4 million Kenyans are currently battling some form of kidney-related complication in the country.
Another 10,000 people are said to be at the end stage of renal complication with only 10 per cent able to access treatment.
However, the good news is that the number of hemodialysis units has risen from five in 2006 to 54 by 2019 nationwide.
Also, the number of patients receiving the treatment has increased from 300 in 2006 to 2,400 by March last year.
The patients can get specialized access easily since the services are within their reach. Machakos level five hospital currently attends to approximately 12 patients per day.
Mary Waeni, a nephron nurse at the renal unit, expressed her worries on the lack of early detection of kidney problems. She said most of the patients are diagnosed when they have reached chronic stages.
“Reversing the condition would be easier if the patients are diagnosed earlier. Three to four sessions would rectify it, but in the chronic stage, we can only offer management services on weekly session,” she said.
Waeni further acknowledged that even though the condition can be fully rectified through a kidney transplant, getting a compatible donor is real nightmare for patients.
The nurse is now urging members of the public to be careful over their lifestyle by observing their diet and daily activities, which have been cited as the leading causes of non-communicable diseases.
There are six dialysis machines at the Machakos Level 5 hospital’s renal unit. Five of these were sourced from the Central government while one was donated by the Kenya Commercial Bank Foundation.
Between 2016 and 2017, the hospital carried out 2,150 renal sessions to over a thousand patients, an impressive figure by any standard.
Each patient pays Sh.7, 500 per session, a figure which is slightly lower than Sh.9, 500 usually charged in private hospitals.
According to a 2017 report by The National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) payouts for dialysis was highlighted as the single largest claim, highlighting the growing cases of kidney ailments among Kenyans.
Official statics indicate that the State owned medical insurer paid health facilities a total of Sh.839.9 million in the six months to December 2017 up from Sh.139.8 million in a similar period a year earlier, translating to a fivefold rise.
By Samuel Maina/Herald Aloo