A GROWING number of patients with kidney diseases brings to the fore a grave public health concern. Physicians at a press conference marking World Kidney Day on Wednesday claimed that more than 20 million people suffer from kidney diseases, with more than 40,000 of them facing the risk of kidney damage every year. What is more alarming is that mechanisms in place to handle kidney diseases and the treatment are not adequate. Patients with kidney diseases usually require dialysis or kidney transplants in severe cases. But the high cost of treatment — experts believe that more than 90 per cent of the patients cannot afford it — and the lack of donors often render the patients helpless. The treatment facilities available are also mostly based in Dhaka, which makes the access to treatment harder for patients living in outlying areas. The government’s lack of preparedness to deal with kidney diseases is evident in that there are only 1,900 dialysis machines for a population of more than 160 million, which is considered too poor.
Kidneys filter blood by removing wastes and toxins, control fluid balance and balance levels of electrolytes, and kidney diseases in severe stages can cause death. Rampant food adulteration is cited as a major reason for kidney diseases. The government has largely failed to control food contamination and adulteration as food items such as milk, spices, edible oil, etc have consistently been found in the recent past not be fit for human consumption. The government should address food adulteration issues to curb the worrying increase in kidney diseases. Kidney diseases can be avoided by maintaining a healthy way of life that includes a balanced diet, regular physical exercise and regulated use of medicine. But there has to be adequate awareness creation for this to happen. Making the screening of kidney problems and its treatment available in outlying areas is also imperative. Health experts say that 54 patients with dysfunctional kidneys die every day, as New Age reported in early February, and believe that an independent government agency to regulate cadaveric organ donation and transplantation activities could help in such cases.
The government must address the issue on three fronts at a time. The government must shore up issues of preparedness to tackle the growing number of patients with kidney diseases and ensure that healthcare facilities are adequate. The government must also stop food adulteration and contamination and run awareness campaigns to greatly unburden public health of a huge cost that the diseases entail.
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