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Benue worries over rising kidney failures

He travels over 200 kilometers from his Gboko abode regularly to access the health facility which is the only one available in the state and…

He travels over 200 kilometers from his Gboko abode regularly to access the health facility which is the only one available in the state and located in the Benue State capital, Makurdi.
The journey is an inconveniencing and tiresome one. Anshondo has to join a queue to wait for his turn at the dialysis centre, following the influx of patients with similar cases from other parts of the state.
Despite the difficulties in the process, the once vibrant chief executive at the paper bag section of the defunct Benue Cement Company (BCC) now acquired by Dangote Group, worries that the major challenges confronting him is fund to sufficiently cater for his medical bills.
The bill, according to him, is huge during each appointment, such that a lot of financial support, especially from family and friends, is usually necessary to move on with treatment.
He further disclosed that he spends nothing less than N250, 000 every month to manage his condition: each session costs N15, 000. And he pays for other services such as blood injection for N7, 500, everyday laboratory tests at N4, 000 apiece and spends as much as N40, 000 on drugs weekly.
“I undergo this process eight or nine times in a month and spend at least N250 000 monthly in addition to transport between Makurdi and Gboko,” he said.
A relative, who declined to be named, also bears witness that the ailment is very difficult to manage and that it has not been easy for the immediate family to render financial assistance as well as attend to other monetary needs of kinsmen.
While Anshondo may be favoured to have supportive relations, there are many others who can’t afford the pecuniary implication of the disease and as such are left to fate or carried from one spiritual house to another in a bid to get healing. Sadly, many indigent sufferers die untimely.
The worry in recent time is the rising cases of the ailment which has raised concerns among medical practitioners who think that more young people are nowadays becoming victims of kidney-related illnesses.
 At the Benue State University Teaching Hospital Makurdi, at least 60 patients with kidney failure related diseases are treated every week in the dialysis section.
Consultant nephrologist at the centre, Dr. Monday Ogiator, said the rising cases of the ailment are quite frightening because of the number of cases which the hospital receives daily.
According to him, though detailed statistics on people suffering from the disease in the state is underway following a recent study at the centre undertaken by the MTN foundation to ascertain actual data, however over 15 cases are treated weekly in the hospital.
Ogiator noted that patients come from all over the 23 local government areas of the state to get medical help with the advantage of its four operational machines for non-infectious and infectious cases of the disorder.
He blamed the alarming rate of the disease in recent times on factors such as kidney infections not properly treated, especially in young people, hypertension, diabetes, obesity and connective tissue diseases in females.
While he also fingered the use of herbal medication, un-prescribed over-the-counter drugs and excessive swallowing of pain relievers as well as polycystic kidney disease (inherited) as common causes, the medical practitioner posited that fresh cases of the ailment had been noticed among young people between the ages of 30 and 45 nowadays, contradicting the early belief that only elderly people are prone to the infection.
“In our environment today, kidney failure is mostly noticed among the young and middle age group,” he said.
Ogiator stated further that the major challenge facing the treatment is lack of funding because many patients cannot afford a single treatment session of a minimum of N52, 000 per week which culminate to an average cost of N208, 000 every month for each person.
Meanwhile, Dr. Ogiator has appealed to government to subsidize the treatment cost of the disease so that poor patients can afford maintenance dialysis while he called on philanthropists to come to the aid of the less privileged sufferers in the society.
Similarly, he expressed the need for more dialysis trained nurses and additional equipment as the centre continues to expand due to increasing cases of the ailment even as he advised people to remain health conscious by availing themselves for screening to detect infection at its infancy stage for proper treatment that would save lives.
On his part, the state Director of Public Health, Dr. Joseph Kumba, admitted the frightening rate of the disease but said he could not ascertain the correct figure of cases for the state as he travelled out of the state during the time of this report.
Meanwhile, Dr. Ogiator has said that every individual is responsible for their health as taking steps to live a healthy lifestyle can go a long way towards reducing the risk of kidney failure.
He also said that early detection and treatment can slow or prevent the progression of kidney related disease just as undiagnosed chronic cases can degenerate rapidly following subtle symptoms which are similar to many other ailments.
The best bet, he explained, is for people to remain health conscious and to ensure they go for proper check up and screening whenever the need arises because the early stage of the disease which is equally curable does not show symptom.
Dr. Ogiator added that people with kidney failure need to receive maintenance dialysis regularly or a kidney transplant to be able to go on living. However, he said that transplant cannot be done in BSUTH except in few hospitals within Nigeria or abroad where the charges are between N6million and N8 million respectively.

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