The Minister of Health, Ms Sherry Ayittey, has said that there are more than 8,000 renal failure patients in Ghana now. Out of the number, less than 600 are receiving serious treatment because of the high cost and the lack of requisite equipment.
Ms Ayittey made this known at the World Kidney Day celebration in Accra yesterday.
The event was organised by the Health Education On Wheels (HEOW), a non-governmental organisation, on the theme “Chronic kidney disease and ageing.”
The HEOW is collaborating with the Police Service to establish a dialysis centre at the Ghana Police Hospital. World Kidney Day is celebrated on the second Thursday of March every year and the occasion is always used to increase awareness on the importance of kidneys and how to keep them healthy.
Speaking at the event, Ms Ayittey said chronic kidney diseases could develop at any age.
In an attempt to increase accessibility to renal centres, Ms Ayittey said the Ministry of Health would soon establish dialysis centres in some selected areas in the country.
A urology centre, she said, would also be established at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) in Accra, to pave way for kidney transplants and other complex renal surgeries in Ghana.
“When the urology centre is completed, there will be no need for anyone whose health requires a kidney transplant to travel outside for the transplant,” she said.
Touching on the need to create awareness about the disease, Ms Ayittey said the World Kidney Day provided an opportunity for communities to be mobilised to raise awareness of the risk factors of the kidney disease and provide free screening to the public.
She said early detection of the disease could help in its management.
“Left untreated, chronic kidney failure may progress to irreversible advanced kidney failure that may require dialysis or a kidney transplant. What is worrying in Ghana is that we are having more young people having kidney problems, and this means we have to educate ourselves on kidney diseases,” she added.
Inspector General of Police
For his part, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr Mohammed Alhassan, said a good lifestyle could prevent diseases associated with the kidneys.
Examples of a good lifestyle are avoiding excessive smoking and alcohol intake, moderate sugar and salt intake and frequent exercising, he said.
Dilating on the effects of ageing on good health, Mr Alhassan said research had shown that every African or Asian who attained the age of 50 must be aware of the risks of developing chronic kidney diseases if they had diabetes or hypertension.
“We need to embrace awareness, create within us a culture of prevention and seek appropriate and early treatment when necessary. It is sad to say but most of us who own vehicles are more conscious about the state of our vehicles than that of our health,” he added.
Mr Alhassan said it was, therefore, necessary to increase public awareness about kidney diseases, to reduce the number of cases in the country.
In his address, Nii Okwei Kinka Dowuona VI, the Osu Mantse, said Osu was privileged to have a dialysis centre and called for more education on kidney diseases to save lives.
He commended the government for initiating a private-public partnership arrangement, in an attempt to improve the quality of health care in the country.