AN estimated five to six million Tanzanians could be suffering from kidney disease related complications, a health expert has said.Speaking at a media conference focusing on the seriousness of the problem in Dar es Salaam on Friday, the founder of the National Kidney Foundation (NKF), Dr Linda Ezekiel said a two day camp in Dar es Salaam in 2010 tested 3,500 people and diagnosed over 1,200 of them with acute kidney disease complications.
"Although there are official statistics, we know that the problem is serious and calls for careful redress. There are over 450,000 people on dialysis machine services and that is scary," she said.
Unlike other ailments, Dr Linda said, kidney disease complications accumulate slowly and continuing with a culture of not going to hospital until one fell sick, only worsened the situation.She said there was need to raise awareness of the importance of kidneys to overall health and to reduce the frequency and impact of kidney diseases and associated health problems.
The Attorney General and NKF chairman, Judge Frederick Werema said kidney disease associated problems needed to be better addressed, especially when one took into consideration the misuse of antibiotics."Not being health conscious really complicates the problem. The youth and children are mostly the biggest victims," he said.
Judge Werema said going for days without drinking water, taking medication without a doctor's prescription and abortion tended to escalate the problem.NKF board member, Ms Hellen Alvarez said there was need to put more emphasis on raising awareness especially during these times where binge drinking among the youth is on the rise.
The Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Dr Hussein Mwinyi said Tanzania joins the rest of the world every March 14 in celebrating World Kidney Day through marches, concerts, education sessions and free screening. Dr Mwinyi said this year, his ministry worked together with NKF to raise awareness of the problem.
"In Tanzania, acute kidney injury is an acquired disease, affecting younger and previously healthy individuals. The specific causes include diarrheal diseases with dehydration, infectious diseases like malaria, dengue, Hepatitis and tetanus," he said.Dr Mwinyi said that this year's World Kidney Day theme was 'kidneys for life: Stop acute kidney injury' and that the public needed to demystify the dangerous conditions and make kidney disease complications recognizable to the public in a similar way that heart attacks and stroke campaigns have done.
He said as part of the commemorations which will be held at the AICC hospital grounds from March 11 - 14, 2013, activities will include free screening of people for kidney diseases.The Tigo Corporate Social Responsibility Officer, Ms Woinde Shisael said they have designed a software to enable people know the status of their kidneys by stating their gender, height and weight.
Ms Shisael said that the sms service dubbed 'know the health of your kidneys' would be launched during the climax of the World Kidney Day and that it will be free of charge because NKF had already paid the bill.