Statistics about the prevalence of kidney related ailments in the country recently released are very disturbing. According to Dr. Chinwuba Ijeoma, President of the National Association of Nephrology, more than 20 per cent of Nigerians have kidney problems, which is over 32 million for a population of 160 million.
In recent times, attempts to draw attention to the increasing cases of kidney failure in Nigeria had failed. Dr. Augustine Ohwovoriole, President, Diabetic Association of Nigeria had in the light of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s hospitalisation in Germany said there was projected annual growth rate of six to eight per cent in renal failure. Then, Dr. Ohwovoriole had pointed out that, “The exponential growth and expansion of chronic renal failure in patients calls for more renal services, nephrologists and sophisticated dialysis machines and medicaments.”
However, more disturbing, is the attitude of government to the problem. Official indifference continues. The attitude of government to the sick can be judged by the quality and inadequacy of health infrastructure in the country. If this attitude continues, a crisis in the health services sector might be forthcoming.
Renal failure ranks high among killer illnesses in Nigeria, but unlike malaria and HIV/AIDS, it is ignored. Also, cost of treating the ailment is high. The required personnel and facilities to cater for patients are highly inadequate. Nigeria has only 75 nephrologists and about 50 functional dialysis centres. Poor earnings and a chaotic medical system also deny Nigerians access to these dialysis centres, which are mainly in the urban centres, far from the patients, especially from the rural areas.