By Winsley Masese
More than 80,000 Kenyans suffer from kidney ailments, with 15,000 losing kidneys annually due to late diagnosis.
The Kenya Kidney and Lupus Foundation Executive Director Jean Banda said lack of diagnostic services had seen many die due to hypertension and diabetes, the chief causes of kidney failure.
"Conditions that could lead to kidney failure are often misdiagnosed and given the wrong prescriptions," she said.
Late diagnosis has subjected many to suffering, with the cost of dialysis and a kidney transplant beyond their reach.
"There are less than 20 nephrologists (kidney specialists) in the country, making treatment of the disease difficult," Mrs Banda said.
Globally, more than 50 million people suffer from chronic kidney disease and a million from renal replacement therapy.
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She urged the Government to make diagnostic services available in public hospitals.
Banda, who had a kidney transplant, said: "This can drastically reduce incidents of renal ailments and eventually reduce suffering from kidney failure."
The World Kidney Day is commemorated on March 8 every year.
Speaking in Kombewa in Kisumu Rural constituency, Banda regretted that the cost of dialysis was beyond the reach of many patients, leading to many deaths.
"One needs more than Sh50,000 a month for consultation, dialysis, and drugs every month. How many Kenyans can really afford this?" she asked.
Banda said Kenya should emulate South Africa and Egypt on how to manage kidney patients.
"In these countries, the governments finance the dialysis for those with kidney problems," she said.
She called on insurance companies to protect patients by charging reasonable premium.
"We agree that we are chronically ill, but they can accept a premium from us," she argued.
She decried the lack of awareness that one could lead a normal life with one kidney, if the other is donated to a loved one.