Campaign urges kidney disease awareness

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Women in Antigua and Barbuda are being encouraged, through a series of activities organised by the Wellness Committee within the Ministry of Health, to test their bodies for chronic kidney disease.
This is in keeping with the health ministry’s plan to mark World Kidney Day on March 8.
 While, the theme for this year’s World Kidney Day is Kidneys and Women’s Health: Include, Value, Empower, “men are more affected by the disease than women,” according to non-communicable disease coordinator within the Ministry of Health, Nurse Valarie Williams, who urges men to also pay attention to the illness.
The activities will include a Socarobics physical exercise session in front of the Ministry of Health Headquarters from 4:45 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The awareness campaign continues on March 13 with a lecture at the Mount St. John’s Medical Center (MSJMC) Conference Room at 5 p.m. with Dr. Leon Cox under the auspices of the Renal Society, the Antigua and Barbuda Diabetes Association and the Ministry of Health and the Environment.
Also, on this day, presentations on kidney health will be made at the Antigua Girls’ High School (AGHS) and the Sir Novelle Richards Academy of Science. Kidney screening will be included at the AGHS.
The aim of the activities is to aid in the reduction of the number of kidney disease cases on the twin- island state.
“One patient may cost up to $50,000 a year, not including other fixed expenses like staffing and utilities among others,” said head of the Dialysis Unit at the MSJMC, Patricia Thomas on OBSERVER AM.
Nephrologist, Dr. George Mansoor, said that there has been a marked increase throughout the Caribbean of patients with diabetes and hypertension, two of the main causes of kidney disease.
“I’ve been working in Antigua for five years. When I first came here our dialysis unit had about 55 or 60 patients. Now we have close to 100 patients. The number has doubled in the last five years,” he added.
There are three stages of kidney disease: mild, moderate and severe. When it is mild and moderate there are no signs or symptoms. It is only detectable through blood and urine tests.
The medical practitioners all stressed that this is why regular tests are so important because when the disease has reached the severe stage, the patient then breaks down in a big way; it’s very difficult for them to return to good health, and death is a great possibility.

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