Kidneys are essential to having a healthy body. They are mainly responsible for filtering waste products, excess water, and other impurities out of the blood. Often, kidney related diseases have problems with how the rest of our body functions. Some of the common complications incurred include anemia, bone disease and heart disease.
Additionally, each year, around 1.7 million people are thought to die from acute kidney injury. Overall, therefore, an estimated 5–10 million people die annually from kidney disease across the globe.
Here in Ethiopia, there are very low level of awareness about kidney diseases and their risk factors. Moreover, lack of data on kidney diseases for management is noted in Ethiopia. However, one organization has come up in Ethiopia, under the name, Ethiopian Kidney care and was founded on the sole purpose of tackling the kidney disease. Capital, got hold of its founder and CEO Dr. Esete Getachew, for an in-depth insight into the world of kidney health. Excerpts;
Capital: What does Ethiopian Kidney care do? What are the organization core objectives?
Dr. Esete Getachew: Kidney Care is a nonprofit organization which was started to work on kidney health and disease. It was started in 2020 about 8 months ago. It is led by board members of 6 people who consist of a multi-disciplinary leadership from various backgrounds including senior medical specialists, health sector managers, entrepreneurs, business owners and non-profit organization leaders.
We decided to embark on this journey in order to burden the weight load of kidney diseases in Ethiopia, Moreover, as health professional we had to dig deep and ask ourselves about our role and contribution to giving back to the community, as a result we formed the this organization we are striving to tackle the kidney disease related diseases in our community.
For our organization, our three main objectives are; to enhance education and awareness creation about kidney health and disease, to conduct nationwide researches with regards to kidney diseases, and to provide kidney patient support.
Capital: What are the challenges faced with regards to dialysis patient care /kidney patients/ in country being that we do not have modernized treatments? How do you plan to cope with the current situation on ground?
Dr. Esete: The most challenging part about kidney patient care is the treatment especially dialysis and access to life saving medications in our country. It’s very expensive and so many of the patients can’t afford it. How we are going to deal with this is by trying to prevent the preventable kidney diseases as much as possible. Moreover we are also trying to partner with other organization to be able to support the kidney patients and we do have a platform on our website for donations in order to unburden the financial burden on kidney patients.
Capital: How do you evaluate the development of kidney care treatments in Ethiopia?
Dr. Esete: The developments of kidney care in Ethiopia have shown slight improvements over the years as a whole. However, there needs to be more work done in this end to alleviate the burden felt by patients.
Capital: What are the challenges in giving kidney treatment in Ethiopia?
Dr. Esete: There are numerous challenges that come into play with regards to providing kidney care treatments. Some notable ones include; the lack of easy accessibility of dialysis centers and the components needed for dialysis like consumables. Secondly, there is lack of access to needed medications and there also a small number of Nephrologists in the country. A catalyst that has added to more kidney related issues is of course the increase in unhealthy life style and diet. Lastly, the lack of a proper system in place to handle the situation of kidney diseases is also a noted bottleneck when it comes to kidney treatment in Ethiopia.
Capital: Nowadays, the number of kidney patients in Ethiopia is gradually increasing, what do you think that is? Similarly, the cost of treatment is on the rise, what would attribute to this rise?
Dr. Esete: There are no detail researches done here in Ethiopia showing what actually causes to the rise of kidney related diseases, but from what I have seen in the workplace is that it can result from different reasons. For example some could be due to unknown causes where others can be aligned to unhealthy life style and due to the increase of other comorbidities like diabetes and hypertension. I think in-depth studies and researches should be conducted to this end in order to better determine and pinpoint the reasons behind the spike in kidney related disease in our country. The attribution to the rise in cost in treatment can be seen as an overall to the rise on cost of living , moreover since we are a developing country the cost can appear high in comparison to our average income. Furthermore, there is no system that is helping patients in a larger scale in our country, thus there is supportive base per say to aid in financial assistance.
Capital: What should be done to improve the treatment situation and also halt the increasing number of patients?
Dr. Esete: Prevention is the main key. I always say it is difficult to apply developed country’s treatment and medications in a developing country. Early checkups should be done as a routine so as to diagnose the issue on time. In addition to that, within the overall tackle of kidney disease, all the pertinent stakeholders need come together and work in a way to provide proper care for the kidney patients.
Capital: What kind of changes is your institution /Ethiopian Kidney Care/ embarking on in order to make a mark on the development of the treatment of kidney in the country?
Dr. Esete: Like I have stated before we are working round the clock in as much as possible to create an intervention of prevention to decrease the burden of kidney related diseases. In order to achieve this we plan to embark on creating awareness since the more knowledgeable the public becomes, the higher they can identify their issues and better mitigate it.
We also want to collaborate and create a way and a streamlined system with other stakeholders who are working on kidney disease in order to provide access to treatment to the patients in the country.
Capital: Is there anything you would like to add?
Dr. Esete: I would like to point out that the problem is not only a load to the ones affected by everyone as a whole. This problem needs to be supported by everyone and I would like to appeal to the general public to provide their support and make a difference to society. Our organization depends on the generosity of donors and volunteers to achieve our goals. There are different ways of supporting our cause and we welcome any help we can get.