That chronic kidney disease is on the rise is not alarming. What is alarming is the rate at which it is being detected. By any standard, diagnosing a dozen people every month is disturbing, if not frightening.
The renal disease alerted health officials and caught public attention a decade ago. Ever since, it has been on the rise even if it a preventable disease. Hopefully, it is a result of the introduction of awareness and improved medical services like haemodialysis. Patients are kept alive through dialysis, as they wait for kidney donors.
It is by far an expensive disease, both to the family of the patient and to the government. Every year, millions of ngultrums are spent on referral cases. This overwhelms the health ministry. Keeping people alive incurs huge costs, but hospitals are bound by ethics of medical practice to continue service for those who do not have a hope of a kidney transplant. There are many at the national referral hospital’s patient guesthouse.
A problem with the disease is that it is often too late when it is detected although it doesn’t happen overnight. Even healthy people are detected with kidney problems, although may be rare. And there is a disturbing trend with young adults suffering from it.
Given the amount of awareness and the attention non-communicable diseases are getting, we should see a decreasing trend. It is not exaggeration to say that urbanites are becoming more health conscious.
The cheapest solution still is prevention and therefore, creating awareness.
The emphasis is on the need of early detection centres and self health care. This should prevent lives and money to the government. But there is not much facility to check, for instance, blood pressure unless you are sick and visit the hospital. There are not many early detection centres. Such opportunities are available only when there is an awareness campaign organised.
Monitoring blood pressure, doctors advice, is a good way for early detection of health problems. But without knowing a health staff or waiting for hours at the hospital, it is difficult to even get a blood pressure checked. If there is no pain, there is no urgency. Outside the urban centres, villagers will be least bothered if they are not sick and can attend the farm work.
We cannot expect health officials to come after people, but if there are good facilities, people will be encouraged. We can surmise that it will not cost the government much to start early detection centres. In fact, a cost of one referral could start a dozen centres. From experience, people will not mind paying a small fee, for instance to get their blood pressure checked at their convenience.
It can be privatised so that it can ease the burden on the health sector and probably create some jobs. Someone who can read and interpret the reading of a Sphygmomanometer at places where people wait for hours will be heartedly welcomed.