Experts Call for Regular Screening as JKUAT Marks World Kidney Day

Dr. Beatrice Wangari makes her presentation during the interactive webinar

The kidney disease that affects millions of people globally is progressively becoming a public health issue that needs to be addressed.

This is mainly due to the upsurge in the prevalence of poorly controlled non-communicable diseases such as diabetes mellitus and hypertension, which further predispose these patients to higher risk of contracting the Coronavirus disease (Covid-19), an infection that also strains the kidney.

In response to this, the students and staff at the department Medical Lab Sciences (MLS) JKUAT through their Laboratory Students Association (JKULSA) observed World Kidney day on March 9, 2023, in a bid to raise awareness on kidney disease which also affects children.

Themed: Kidney Health for all – preparing for the vulnerable, the event championed by the JKULSA patrons Miss Joyce Gachoki and Dr. Peter Karanja from MLS, focused on educating and sensitizing the public about Kidney disease through advocacy at the JKUAT campus on Thursday, March 9, 2023.

During the interactive webinar session, Dr. Beatrice Wangari a nephrologist and the Chairperson Department of Internal Medicine (JKUAT), discussed the causes of kidney disease, which manifests in two ways:

World Kidney day emphasized on hydrating

One is chronic kidney disease which occurs when the kidney is damaged to the extent that it is not reversible with treatment, and often, leads to permanent kidney failure while acute kidney injury (AKI), is short-term and reversible.

The kidney is a vital functional organ in the body that aids in the removal of toxins and waste matter from the body, preservation of proteins in the blood, activates vitamin D, regulates water in the body, produces hormones to help the bone marrow make red blood cells, and is crucial in the formation of urine.

Although in 20 percent of the cases, a cause is not identified, kidney disease is mostly caused by hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and immunosuppressing conditions such as Cancer, and HIV/AIDS.

At times it can be inherited.  In addition, herbal and unprescribed medication has also been shown to adversely affect kidneys in the long run.

Once chronic kidney diseases occur, they are often not reversible therefore prevention is key. It is important to adopt a healthy lifestyle that focuses on good nutrition which includes adequate water intake, avoid alcohol and cigarettes and reduce intake of salt so as not to damage blood vessels.

Students marched at JKUAT Campus to sensitize the community

One should also get routine health checks which should include blood pressure and blood sugar checks, and ensure they are controlled.  Moreover, skin and Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) should be attended to since these bacteria can predispose one to form kidney stones, consequently infecting the kidneys.

As kidney disease sets in, the body retains fluid and subsequently accumulates toxins which cause swelling of the legs and the face, difficulty in breathing, nausea and fatigued.

One can also experience a burning sensation when passing urine, which would also be characterized by a dark color, low volume, bloody or frothy depending on the cause.

According to Mr. Wilfred Gatua, Chief Lab Technologist at Kenyatta University Teaching and Referral Hospital (KUTRH), early diagnosis of kidney disease is possible, and with the advanced technologies in Kenya, medical practitioners are currently able to accurately evaluate patients through serum creatinine lab tests based on weight, age, sex, and race test, as well as radiological exams to confirm the diagnosis.

Mr. Gatua advised that progressed kidney disease is physically, emotionally, mentally, economically and socially draining which necessitates raising awareness especially for people living with non-communicable disease who he says, should go for regular screening as a preventive measure against kidney failure.

“If you have diabetes go for regular clinic every three months. If you have a family history every 6 months, and for healthy persons, once a year. These tests should include basic urine test to check protein, blood, and PH,” advised Mr. Gatua.

Chronic kidney disease, depending on its severity, can be treated using medication to slow progression to end-stage kidney failure but cannot be reversed or cured.

Kidney failure is the point where the kidney can no longer perform, so there is retention of urea products, swelling and collection of fluid in the heart and lungs which is why it is serious.

Once kidney failure occurs, dialysis or transplant from a matching donor (ideally a spouse or blood relative) can be explored.

A section of MLS students and their lecturers

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