How Lives of Kidney Patients in Populous Kano Depend on 12 Dialysis Machines

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The cases of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) are on the rise in Kano state amid uncertainties as the lives of kidney patients depend on only 12 functional dialysis machines in Kano’s two biggest Hospitals, Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH) and Abdullahi Wase Specialist Hospital, PR Nigeria investigations have shown.

It is believed that the number of patients suffering from Chronic Kidney Diseases- an impaired function or evidence of kidney damage that persisted for more than 3 months is always increasing not only in Nigeria but worldwide.

It was gathered that, at Abdullahi Wase Specialist Hospital, there are on average 160 patients every week with kidney-related diseases that come to the clinic, and in every week, there are at least 15 new patients that come for dialysis. While at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital there are up to 70 patients every week on the roster of maintaining dialysis patients. But in a week at least 40 dialysis treatments or more are being done and some will be waiting.

Despite the expensiveness of dialysis treatment,(an alternative to the lost kidney function that emulates what the kidney does in terms of filtration of blood and removal of toxins and waste products from the body) many of the few Dialysis machines in two of the Kano’s biggest treatment centres are not functioning.

However, researches have shown that, while there are explanations regarding the rise of Patients suffering from Chronic kidney Diseases in developed countries as it is mostly associated with older age, weaken body system and chronic conditions, but here in Nigeria, Nephrologists in Kano believed that there are few or no explanations on the rise as majority of patients suffering with Chronic Kidney Diseases fall within the young age group, less than 40 years old and are presented to the hospitals at the last stage making it difficult to detect the cause.

Only 8 of 20 Dialysis Machines function at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital Kano (AKTH)

PR Nigeria gathered that in Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, only 8 of 20 dialysis machines work at the moment, and many patients suffering with CKD wait for more than 10 hours to get dialysis. Also, despite the few numbers of dialysis machines that work day and night, as well as the exorbitant cost of dialysis treatment, there are up to 70 patients with CKD on dialysis maintenance roster every week.

Aliyu Abdu, a Professor of Medicine and Nephrology in Bayero University Kano, a Consultant Nephrologist and Head of Renal Unit of Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, said it is very difficult to cope working with few dialysis machines with many patients waiting for treatment.

“We used to have up to 20 dialysis machines, but because of inadequate Funding and other challenges at the moment we don’t have more than 5 normal machines that are functioning and we have other 3 machines one for each of the septic cases. The machines work day and night, we have engineers that are on shift duties and we also have nurses and Doctors on call duties that cover the dialysis unit for us”.

“It is very difficult to cope. You’ll see patients queuing for 10 hours or 15 hours to get dialysis because when you put a patient on a dialysis machine, the patient must stay on the machine for at least 4 hours and then you need another 1 hour to clean and disinfect the machine before it is ready for the next patient. So you can see in a day, you cannot take more than 3 patients on a machine.”

“We have a lot of patients, and in a week we can do at least 40 dialysis or more and some will be waiting. We have many patients; in fact there are times on our roster of maintaining dialysis patients we get up to 70 patients. And it all depends on what you can afford, some can afford once in a week, some twice in a week and some that are rich enough can afford the ideal dose which is 3 times in a week.” The Head, Renal unit added.

PR Nigeria also gathered that, the cost of dialysis treatment at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital has been increased but all effort to get official details of the new amount proved abortive.

Only 4 of 6 Dialysis Machines work at Abdullahi Wase Teaching Hospital

Abdullahi Wase Specialist Hospital is regarded as one of the cheapest Treatment Center for dialysis in Kano state that served basically as the key center for referral in almost the entire state, yet only 4 of the 6 available dialysis machines work.

PR Nigeria gathered that in all the dialysis treatment that is being done at the hospital, the state Government has to subsidize the dialysis to a lower price for affordability, but yet the number of patients suffering from Chronic Kidney Diseases sighted at the unit waiting for dialysis is shockingly large.

The acting HOD dialysis unit of Abdullahi Wase Teaching Hospital, Doctor Usman Adamu said despite the increasing number of patients with Chronic Kidney Diseases remain the cheapest in Kano state.

“Dialysis in this hospital is very cheap because the first session costs at 15,000 and subsequent sessions at 8,000 naira each which is still affordable compared to other centers.”

“Here we have about 4 functional dialysis machines and 2 are about to be repaired. But we don’t offer septic dialysis for patients with HIV and Hepatitis. Similarly, at this hospital we receive an average number of 60 to 80 patients per clinic and 160 patients every week with kidney related diseases and amongst which many of them need dialysis. Also, every week, there are at least 15 new patients that come for dialysis in this hospital” he added.

Meanwhile, when PR Nigeria visited the hospital it observed more than 40 patients waiting for dialysis treatment on a faithful Tuesday.

Young Age Group suffers Chronic Kidney Diseases in Kano

In attempt to understand the cause of the increasing number of patients with Chronic Kidney Disease in Kano and Nigeria as there are few or no medical explanation on the rise of CKD in Nigeria, Nephrologists in Kano worries as most patients with CKD presented to Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital and Abdulahi Wase Specialist Hospital are young age group.

While in many developed countries, there are explanations on the rise of Chronic Kidney Diseases as evidence and medical explanations provided that CKD is associated with aging population and chronic conditions amongst older people which led to the rise of kidney patients.

Dr Usman Adamu, the acting Head of Dialysis Unit of Abdullahi Wase Specialist Hospital lamented over how cases of CKD are on the rise in Nigeria where most of the patients diagnosed with CKD belong to the young age group.

“Here at Abdullahi Wase Hospital, most of the patients we see are young patients within less than 40 years of age bracket. And when you’re seeing patients of younger age group who are supposed to be the productive people in the society now having CKD, then you know it is something really worrisome”

He, however, urged that People with hypertension and hepatitis should go on regular checkup monitoring in order to prevent the occurrence of CKD. Also the use of traditional medicine should be avoided.

Similarly, at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, a consultant Nephrologist and Head of Renal Unit of the Hospital, Prof Aliyu Abdu said most of the patients presented to AKTH with Chronic Kidney Diseases are younger age group.

“At AKTH, a great number of our patients we cannot confidently say this is the cause of their Kidney failure because they come to the hospital very late and regarding CKD, whatever is the etiology, terminally they look the same.”

“But here at AKTH, we see patients that are younger, we see patients that are more likely to be caused by Glomerulonephritis- inflammation of the kidney; and we see a lot of patients with diabetic kidney diseases; and we see a lot of patients with hypertensive kidney diseases and we see a lot of patients with other infections like Hepatitis A, B and C as well as HIV infections. So we see a variety of cases, but the majority of these cases we see amongst younger age groups are attributed to the Glomerulonephritis” he added.

By Usman Bello Balarabe

This report is produced with support from the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) under the Collaborative Media Engagement for Development Inclusivity and Accountability project (CMEDIA) funded by the MacArthur Foundation