As many as one in eight South Africans have some form of kidney disease, with potentially fatal kidney disorders occurring three to four times more often in the African population.
The Western Cape Vredenburg Provincial Hospital’s new dialysis clinic is set to save many lives as the community and patients from surrounding areas no longer have to travel weekly to Groote Schuur Hospital to receive treatment for kidney disease.
Vredenburg Hospital’s Medical Manager Dr Silvio Morales Perez says having a dialysis unit in the rural area means a lot.
“It takes us to another level of care, with high quality and better outcomes for our patients. For our clients, a service that is close to their home means high satisfaction for them and their families, decreasing the anxiety of weekly travel and the financial burden,” he adds.
The Western Cape’s departments of Health and Wellness and Transport and Public Works entered into a public-private partnership with National Renal Care to open the facility, which has 12 stations and will initially cater for 36 dialysis patients.
Protect your kidneys
Kidney diseases can be caused by various factors, including hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, inflammation of the kidney or a blockage (kidney stones).
It can also be caused or made worse by hereditary factors, such as kidney cancer, or trauma to the kidneys, such as an accident or injury, says the National Kidney Foundation of South Africa (Nkfsa).
It’s important to get your kidney function checked if you have one or more of the high-risk factors for kidney disease. These include being overweight, a family history of kidney disease, hypertension or diabetes.
The Nkfsa says that while kidney damage can’t be reversed, there are ways you can keep it from getting worse, such as following a kidney-friendly eating plan, being active and not smoking.
Chronic kidney disease is a progressive loss in kidney function over months or years. When kidney function falls below a certain point, it is called kidney failure. Kidney failure affects your whole body and can make you feel very sick. If untreated, it can be life-threatening, says the Nkfsa.
Usually, kidney disease starts slowly, with no signs or symptoms, and progresses over several years.
Kidney disease can only be diagnosed by a qualified doctor. If you suspect any problems with your kidneys, visit your closest healthcare facility.