An growing rate of people suffering with chronic kidney disease is becoming a worrying trend for health officials.
President of the Saint Lucia Renal Association Cecilia Adolph who confirmed this, told St. Lucia News Online (SNO) today, April 25 that the disease is not peculiar to the elder population, but can even be found present among youth.
According to her, this is as a result of unhealthy lifestyles.
“What we suspect is that the two main causes for the disease here in Saint Lucia are diabetes and high blood pressure. If we can get persons to change their lifestyles and their attitudes and begin watching their diets and exercise, then those persons will not have uncontrollable diabetes and high blood pressure that would inevitably lead to kidney disease,” Adolph explained.
The association’s president however clarified that not every one that suffers from those illnesses can acquire kidney disease.
Research indicates that lupus and sickle cells are two other illnesses that could lead to persons having kidney disease. In other cases, cancer could cause the disease.
Chronic kidney disease is the slow loss of kidney function over time. The main function of the kidneys is to remove wastes and excess water from the body. Chronic kidney disease slowly gets worse over time. In the early stages, there may be no symptoms. The loss of function usually takes years to occur. It may be so slow that symptoms do not appear until kidney function is less than one-tenth of normal.
The final stage of chronic kidney disease is called end-stage renal disease. At this stage, the kidneys are no longer able to remove enough wastes and excess fluids from the body. The patient needs dialysis or a kidney transplant. Chronic kidney disease affects thousands of people across the world, including the Caribbean.
More men are being diagnosed with the disease, Adolph stated, adding that the situation is being closely monitored.
She said so far, workshops have been organised at community centres, schools, health clinics and other organisations that request it.
The Renal Association has made it possible for 66 patients in Castries and 36 in Vieux Fort to receive dialysis treatment.
Although the association receives support from the corporate community, it is still finding it hard to sustain these programmes. Adolph said while government heavily subsidises dialysis, the association provides other medical support such as screening and purchasing medication for patients.
“We recently had four screening programmes and we also give people literature … our main source of revenue is the monthly contribution of members which is five dollars. The other source is to go out there and hold fundraisers or go to the public to get assistance,” she explained.
She explained that most people diagnosed with chronic kidney disease are unfit for work. Normally, an injection for treatment alone costs EC$50.
The association is planning to forge partnerships with the World Kidney Foundation, which provides grants for training, education, finance and medication. Aside from this, Adolph said that her association is also looking to build partnerships with similar organisations in sister Caricom countries.
The association will continue its fundraising drive for dialysis patients on Saturday, April with an Old School and Country Western Dance at Prio’s Country Palace, upstairs the Castries Market starting at 8 p.m. Tickets cost EC$10.
Persons or organisations wishing to make a contribution to the association can contact then on (758) 725 7747 or 451 2687.