Home » 27 Million Nigerians Battle Kidney Disease Amid Soaring Costs

27 Million Nigerians Battle Kidney Disease Amid Soaring Costs

High Treatment Expenses, Lifestyles Put Millions at Renal Risk

by Adenike Adeodun

In Nigeria, over 27 million individuals are at risk of chronic renal diseases and kidney failure, largely due to poor lifestyle choices and the prohibitive cost of renal care. With kidney-related conditions claiming approximately 272,400 lives annually, the financial burden of treatment is staggering—dialysis alone can cost up to N160,000 weekly, with total expenses including medication reaching millions of Naira.

This alarming situation was highlighted during the World Kidney Day 2024 commemoration, emphasizing the urgent need for public education on kidney health and the adoption of healthy lifestyles. The Nigerian Association of Nephrologists reports that 12% of the population suffers from Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), with the severe stages leading to a high mortality rate due to the unaffordability of dialysis.

The rising prevalence of kidney diseases is attributed to factors like diabetes, obesity, and hypertension, exacerbated by poor diets rich in salt and sedentary lifestyles. The situation is worsened by the increasing incidence of illicit drug and alcohol abuse, as well as the disturbing trend of organ harvesting fueled by poverty.

Professor Jacob Awobusuyi, President of the Nigerian Association of Nephrologists, expresses deep concern over the growing number of Nigerians living with CKD. He highlights the dire financial implications for those requiring kidney replacement therapy, with many patients driven to poverty by the costs of treatment. To combat this, he advocates for the inclusion of kidney care in health insurance policies to make treatments more accessible and affordable.

Globally, an estimated 850 million people are battling kidney diseases, with over five million dying annually due to lack of access to essential treatments. Chronic kidney disease is projected to become the fifth leading cause of death by 2040. The cost of kidney replacement therapy is a significant cause of catastrophic health expenditure worldwide, underscoring the need for early diagnosis and improved access to care.

Risk factors for kidney damage are multifaceted, including diabetes, heart failure, exposure to nephrotoxins, and the use of certain drugs and substances like alcohol, cocaine, and MDMA. The theme for World Kidney Day 2024, “Advancing equitable access to care and optimal medication practice,” calls for action to overcome barriers to care and medication access, emphasizing the importance of early and consistent treatment strategies.

Healthcare professionals are also raising alarms over the rise in organ harvesting and the commercialization of kidneys in Nigeria. Prof. Babatunde Salako, Director General of the Nigerian Institute for Medical Research, points to poverty and the desire for quick wealth as driving forces behind this trend. While most nations condemn the commercialization of organ donation, the demand from wealthy patients and the supply from impoverished donors continue to fuel this practice.

Efforts to combat organ trafficking include the promotion of cadaver donor programs, enforcement of existing laws, the provision of job opportunities for young people, and ensuring that living donors are motivated by altruism rather than financial gain. Despite international declarations against organ commercialization, the demand for organs far exceeds the supply, making organ trafficking a persistent global issue.

As Nigeria and the world grapple with the challenges of kidney disease and organ trafficking, a multifaceted approach involving public education, improved healthcare policies, and stringent measures against illegal organ trade is crucial for advancing the fight against renal ailments and ensuring equitable access to life-saving treatments.


Source: The Guardian

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