WKD seeks universal health coverage for prevention of kidney diseases

KARACHI:World Kidney Day 2019 being observed on Thursday with the theme “Kidney Health for Everyone Everywhere” seeks universal health coverage (UHC) for prevention and early treatment of kidney disease. Given the fact that around 20,000 deaths are registered due to kidney failure every year in the country, the doctors talking to reporter strongly recommended incorporation of screening as an important component of primary healthcare interventions for people at high risk for kidney disease. “In our context where a significant part of the country falls in arid zone it should not be of any surprise to see low water intake pattern among many with direct impact on their kidney health,” said Dr Swaleh Rahim associated with a local renal care facility.

The nephrologist with vast experience of working in rural areas of the province said the situation turns all the more grim as the water available to many of these areas is brackish with little provision for its proper treatment. “Situation in no manner can be cited satisfactory in urban centres as majority of the inhabitants with their abode in slums remain deprived of potable water,” he said in reply to a question. Dr Rahim agreed that simple and cost effective interventions in most of the cases can turn the essential human need fit for human consumption. Bringing available water to full boil and filtering it through simple sieve was said to turn water absolutely safe for drinking purpose and also avert the associated health risks.

There are also other simple and cost effective interventions for many who can little afford mineral water, he said regretting that people largely appear to have wrong set of priorities. “Easy availability of safe drinking water is definitely a threat to kidney health but so is the growing trend of junk food indulgence,” said Dr Naushaba Abrar complimenting her colleague. “Steady increase in the number of people registered with stones in kidney and consequent damage to the essential human organ is a direct outcome of high fat and sodium intake,” she said.

Elaborating her stance, Dr. Naushaba said despite being a stratified society people from all sections with different backgrounds and social strata can be witnessed going for high protein and fat dense food with salt content exceeding permissible limits. “Burgers or bun kababs, pizza or paratha/poori or traditional biryani and so-forth are readily available in accordance to affordability of almost every section,” said the doctor. “I run clinics in different slums and therefore can easily vouch about the food preference of these people for whom this perhaps is the only entertainment,” she said mentioning that samosas, chips and similar items are all time favourites of the kids. Without going into any details about factors responsible for the trend, Dr Naushaba said carbonated drinks have emerged to be also a culprit behind the surge in kidney diseases among children and youth in the country. Dr Tahir Shah working for the cause of “No Tobacco Consumption” mentioned that direct impact of smoking on renal health of the active as well as passive smokers.

Appreciative of the fact that PTI government only recently took much awaited decision with regard to tobacco control the healthcare providers said situation demands relevant measures to modify existent food culture that over the years has turned to be extremely unhealthy. The policy makers must introduce urgent interventions with equal attention towards efficient implementation, said Dr Shumaila Kumail, dietician associated with a major tertiary care facility of the metropolis. The medical practitioners were also unanimous in their opinion that people with record of obesity, hypertension or high blood pressure; high cholesterol level and diabetes do fall among high risk individuals hence must undergo for mandatory screening at regular intervals. “Given the ground realities we need to ensure basic health services for these people so as to delay disease progression,” said Dr Swaleh Raheem mentioning that urine and blood tests are the simple tools to ascertain kidney health status.