Medical Director says Kidney failure is not a disease of the elderly

kidney problems

Dr Aiden Suntaa Saanwie, the Medical Director of the Upper East Regional Hospital in Bolgatanga, says kidney failure is not a disease of the elderly as perceived by some members of the public.

He explained that kidney or renal failure was a condition in which the kidneys were unable to get rid of waste and balance fluids in the body.

He said the condition, which eventually leads to the need for dialysis, was a global problem, and recalled that, “We used to say it is a disease of the elderly, but now, it is not the case. We have seen patients as young as 20years with renal failure.

Dr Saanwie said this at a durbar to launch a fund to establish a Haemodialysis Centre for the Region.

He noted that, the disease was not the usual smoking and all the second causes we used to blame it on. It is closer than we think. If you analyse the data for last year, 2022, out of 30 patients that had end-stage or acute renal failure, both of which will require dialysis, half of them could not afford even the first cycle of dialysis.

He said unfortunately, those who could afford, were able to manage it up to a point, and about 33 per cent of them had to discontinue because they could not continue to travel to Tamale.”

As a major referral centre for the Region which serves parts of the Upper West and North East Regions and some communities in Burkina Faso, the Hospital has no dialysis machine to treat patients with renal problems.

Patients in the Region had over the years relied on the Tamale Teaching Hospital (TTH) in the Northern Region for dialysis and the use of other critical medical equipment including its Computerised Tomography (CT) scan machine.

Dr Saanwie said patients with end-stage renal failure might be required to visit TTH at least thrice a week for dialysis, “You can imagine the cost involved in travelling from Bolgatanga to Tamale three times a week, and the cost of the dialysis itself.”

The Medical Director, who is a Gynaecologist, noted that there was the urgent need for the Regional Hospital to have a Haemodialysis Centre, saying, it would reduce the cost incurred by patients who seek such services.
“We also envisage that if we are able to put in place this Centre, we will reduce by about 60 per cent all renal related deaths in the Region,” he said.

Dr Saanwie indicated that even though there was the urgent need for the Centre, management of the Hospital could not afford the estimated cost of GHȻ800,000.00 involved, “So, that is why we called for this meeting to brainstorm and see how together, we can put in place such a Centre.”

The Medical Director commended Dr Emmanuel Akatibo, a Physician Specialist and Mr Ayamga Ayariga, a Critical Care Nurse, both staff of the Hospital, who mooted the idea to have the Centre established.

Naba Sigri Bewong, the Paramount Chief of the Sakoti Traditional Area in the Nabdam District, said it was incumbent on traditional rulers to contribute their window’s mite to the project.

“We cannot sit and wait for government to come and help us,” Naba Bewong who represented the Regional House of Chiefs at the launch, said.

Mr Stephen Yakubu, the Regional Minister, who launched the fund, called on sons and daughters of the Region to ensure that the Hospital had a 24-hour functioning state-of-the-art Haemodialysis Centre within a year.

“This is crucial for effective health care delivery and the overall development of the Region. It is a call to duty, and we have to be part of this breakthrough moment which would bring hope to the downtrodden and the vulnerable in our society,” he said.

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