Obasanjo Seeks Bill to Support Kidney Patients, Combat Organ Harvesting

Obasanjo Seeks Bill to Support Kidney Patients, Combat Organ Harvesting

James Sowole in Abeokuta

Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, has said there was urgent need for legislative support in terms of a new bill to support people with kidney disease.

He also appealed to relevant security bodies to help with necessary laws on the emerging organ trafficking in the country, especially with regards to cadaveric donations.

In a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Akinyemi, Obasanjo highlighted four areas to address the burden and challenges in the management of kidney disease, even as he noted that several strategies could be followed at the same time.

Obasanjo who spoke at the 36th Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of the National Association of Nephrology with the theme: “Optimising Dialysis Therapy To Prolong Survival,” holding at the main Auditorium of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital, commended the body for its work with regards to advocacy, screening, enlightenment and periodic collaborations with a view to reducing prevalence of the disease, especially among youth and children.

According to the former President, “This is the 30th meeting of the Nephrology Association of Nigeria and it is my delight to commend your Association for its work with regards to advocacy, screening, enlightenment and periodic collaborations with a view to reducing the prevalence of the disease among our people especially among youth and children.”

He said, “From available reports, one out of seven, that is, about 15 per cent of adult Nigerians have kidney failure which cannot be reversed and is life-threatening if left untreated.

“I have also been informed that the prevalence of kidney failure in Africa is higher than anywhere else in the world as an average African is four times more likely to develop kidney problem than a Caucasian or Mediterranean race.”

Causes of this disease, Obasanjo stated, “include hypertension, diabetes, kidney infections, genetic, habitual consumption of undefined herbal medications, and chronic analgesic abuse amongst a list of causes.

“The burden of chronic kidney disease is further exacerbated by the high prevalence of these risk factors. Late presentation is also a problem which further leads to increased morbidity and mortality.

“Many countries in the continent are undergoing rapid epidemiological transitions and are confronted with the double burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases, in part driven by the adoption of Western lifestyles and rapid urbanisation.”

He noted that treatment must start with prevention and healthy lifestyle, while, “in severe cases, apart from drugs, intervention by way of machine treatment (dialysis) or outright replacement (transplantation) are the way out.

“I wish to acknowledge the role of NHIS in providing limited support for only six dialysis sessions, but I want to suggest a need to consider increasing the carrying capacity substantially as obtains in South Africa and Sudan.”

Obasanjo also disclosed that, “we also need to invest in local production of dialysis consumables to bring down the cost of dialysis care.

“Supporting dialysis and transplantation services for children not only improves health outcomes but also reduces the need for Nigerians to seek these services abroad, saving foreign exchange.

“It fosters trust in the government, encourages local production of medications and dialysis materials, creates employment, and enhances the country’s visibility in international healthcare organisations. “Ultimately, strengthened policies can prevent unnecessary deaths, improve healthcare access, and boost the nation’s healthcare infrastructure.

“At this juncture, I want to call on diasporas, well-meaning philanthropists, foundations and corporate Nigeria to support worthy initiatives by the Nigerian Association of Nephrology (NAN), in reducing cost or helping out with capacity development, equipment support and other means of providing succor.”

According to him, to address the burden and challenges in the management of kidney disease, several strategies must be followed at the same time.

He said, “There is a need to raise awareness about kidney disease, its risk factors, and the importance of early detection and treatment. Education programs can be implemented to educate the public and healthcare professionals about kidney disease prevention and management.

“Efforts should be made to increase the number of nephrologists, hemodialysis centers, and kidney transplant centers in Nigeria. This would improve access to specialised care for patients with kidney disease.

“Improving Early Detection and Diagnosis: Early detection and diagnosis of kidney disease can help prevent or delay its progression. Screening programs can be implemented to identify individuals at risk and provide early intervention.

“In this instance, school health services should be re-invigorated to identify early cases in children. Same with pre-employment and insurance screening. A synergy could be worked out with relevant stakeholders and the National Employers’ Consultative Assembly (NECA).”

“Lastly, organ trafficking is an emerging issue in our environment and I want to plead with agencies concerned to help in examining relevant laws especially with regards to cadaveric donations taking cognisance of our peculiar cultural and societal idiosyncrasies and also laws guiding organs to be harvested from living donors.”

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