Kidney failure: Dialysis patients cry for help in Jigawa
Alhaji Usman Sule, father of 16, has been bedridden for the past 15 months after he was diagnosed with kidney failure. He said, the high cost of treatment for the disease is causing him untold hardship as he has spent all his life savings on hospital bills.
Sule who hails from Magatari Local Government Area of Jigawa state said he started receiving treatment at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH) before being transfered to Nassarawa General Hospital, both in Kano.
He said due to the high cost of treatment, he has been moving from one hospital to the other in Kano in search of an affordable hospital, the same reason he said made him to transfer his treatment to Rashid Shokoni Specialist Hospital in Dutse, the Jigawa state capital.
"When I could no longer bear the high cost of dialysis in Kano, I had to transfer my treatment to Dutse. Treatment here is not only less expensive compared to Kano but also less stressful as one does not stay long on queue to undergo the treatment," he said.
According to him, he spends N16, 000 to undergo only a session of dialysis in AKTH whereas it costs him N12,000 in Nasarawa General Hospital. But spends only N9, 000 at Rashid Shokoni Specialist Hospital in Dutse, adding that while receiving treatment at Kano, he incurred more transport expenses.
According to him, despite the agony he passes through whenever the dialysis which he does three times a week is delayed, sometimes he has to skip a session due to lack of money for the continuous treatment.
Sule, who is a business man, said his business has since collapsed as he has spent all his life savings, adding that he has now resorted to disposing his assets in order to keep pace with the financial demands of the treatment.
He commended the Jigawa State government for subsidizing the treatment but also appealed to the government and well spirited individuals to come to his aid by assisting in the payment for his treatment, saying many patients have died due to lack of money to access treatement.
Aisha Adamu, 28, is another patient on admission at Rashid Shokoni Specialist Hospital who also lost her father, and step mother to the same ailment last year.
She said: "Kidney failure killed my father last year. He underwent the first dialysis and died when he was about to go for the second session. One of my father’s wives was also diagnosed with the disease and she died not long after too."
Adamu hails from Hadejia area of the state, a zone said to have been worse hit by the cases of kidney failure.
Prior to when she was diagnosed with the disease, she vomitted over 10 times a day, suffered from fever frequently, had chest pain and could hardly walk around as she got tired easily.
She was referred to Dutse after being diagnosed with the problem at the General Hospital, Hadejia and since then she has been undergoing dialysis. She underwent three sessions in a week.
Adamu paid N12, 000 for the first session and N10,000 each per session for the subsequent sessions. Getting money for the third session was not an easy task for Adamu and she was saved by donations from members of her extended family.
"It was difficult for me to go for the third session as all the money we came with had finished. My brother had to go back home and sought assistance from our relations," she said.
She called on the government to make the treatment free for the patients or at least further subsidize it, saying many are dying because they cannot afford the expenses involved.
However, disturbed by the high prevalence rate of kidney failure in Jigawa State, Governor Mohammed Badaru Abubakar recently announced the determination of his administration to check the further spread of the disease by going into partnership with Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, to engage the services of experts in order to find out the reason for the high prevalence rate of kidney failure in the state with a particular reference to Hadejia zone.
On the preliminary investigation, Badaru said experts revealed that there are traces of agrochemicals substances that found their way into the drinking water sources and might have caused the increase in kidney failure around Hadejia area.
"We are funding them now and we will continue to support them on the research work until we are able to find what the cause is. We have since started advising farmers to stop using these chemicals that we believe might affect humans," he noted.
The Rashid Shokoni Specialist Hospital, Dutse is the only health facility that provides dialysis services in the state though, recently, another center was opened in Hadejia.
The hospital has been rendering such service to patients suffering from kidney related diseases and in particular, to those with chronic kidney cases.
Chief Medical Director of the hospital, Dr. Salisu B. Mu'azu, said the high prevalence rate of kidney failure and other related diseases in the state may be true but added that as a scientist, he does not have facts and figures to say whether or not the kidney related diseases in the state are on the increase or not.
He said kidney related diseases however are on the rise worldwide including Nigeria, adding that this was due to rise in primary conditions leading to kidney failure and they include high prevalence rate of high blood pressure and diabetes mellitus among others.
The observed increase of kidney diseases in the state, he said was due to improved diagnosis and access to medication by the people in the state, adding that unlike in the past, when people did not know where to go for diagnosis.
He said: "When we started the kidney center in Dutse, about four years ago, the center was not only serving the state but most of the neighbouring states. However, along the way, we noticed that more people coming from the state to access treatment are from Hadejia axis compared to other parts of the state.
"But as a scientist, unless there is a research or investigation that follows normal scientific procedures which involve data collection and analysis, we cannot declare that there is high prevalence cases of kidney diseases from Hadejia zone.I know there are bodies and institutions that indicated interest that they wanted to go for this research work. What we have is something that is very subjective, it is not proven because there is no facts and figures.”
He said the treatment for kidney failure is very expensive and not all can afford it and those on dialysis from Hadejia zone are about 30 percent.
“Within the last four years, we have registered over 200 patients and out of this, about half have died. It is a terminal illness, dialysis is palliative and what is definitive is for the patient to go for transplant,” the CMD said.