Ethiopia: Killing the Killer Kidney Disease

If there are most horrific diseases in the world today, it must be very few that outweigh the tight grip of the chronic Kidney Disease. The gravity of the disease is not confined to its being naturally painful. The majority of the people in the world do not have a ready access to the treatment when they are affected by it.

The problem of access to treatment is both in terms of people’s inability to cross a continent to have medical services such as surgery or dialyses and affordability of the service. According to the Global Reports On Kidney Decease, people that comprise ten percent of the world population are affected by the disease and millions breathe their last each year. The chronic disease is dominantly prevalent in developing countries. Of more than 2 million people in the world who receive treatment the majority reside in five developed countries like United States, Japan, Germany, Brazil and Germany, according to 2010 Global Burden of Disease Study.

Surprisingly, these countries represent only 12 percent of the population. And,only 20 percent are treated in about 100 developing countries that make up over 50 percent of the world population. Being part of the developing countries, Ethiopia has been a victim of the disease since few years ago. Fund raising for patients of kidney that need go abroad for treatment was not an uncommon thing in streets of Addis Ababa till recently.

To respond to the call for dealing with this harrowing disease here in the country, two- years of efforts were made by Ethiopian born doctors and renowned surgeons from University of Michigan to establish a kidney transplantation center in Ethiopia. According to St. Poul’s Hospital Millennium Medical College Provost, Dr Zerihun Abebe the establishment would not have come true without the leading role played by women Gynecologist Dr. Senait Feseha.

Dr. Senait is an Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Chief of the Division of Productive Endocrinology and Infertility at University of Michigan who quickly guided the university’s early global initiatives efforts in Ethiopia.

In recognition of her remarkable contribution to the improvement of Ethiopian Health service the Ministry of Health has awarded the women professor Dr Senait Feseha on October 9, 2013 in Mekelle.

When the kidney-transplantation center was established this year in September, a letter of gratitude and felicitation was dispatched to her and University of Michigan.

Since then, the center which is a historic milestone has been progressing in kidney surgery and related operations.

The starting of transplantation has become a salivation from unexpected corner for many patients. And the successful surgical operations conducted so far are flickering a ray of hope to some patients waiting for treatment and for many others.

The center is increasing the number of surgeons from time to time. According to the information gained from Paulos hospital, the transplantation is being done only a week in a month. But there is a plan to gradually increase the number of surgeries. As an initial exercise, the hospital conducts surgical operation on patients of normal weight and free from virus, blood pressure and some other illness.

“Patients of such complications will not get such operation now because as the risk of failure in such cases is high we need not distort public’s image from the onset”

A crew of more than 25 local professionals and four surgeons from abroad had participated for a single surgical operation. It was learnt that U-M transplant surgeon Jeffrey Punch, who has more than 30-years of experience in kidney transplantation and dialysis, shuttles from Michigan to Ethiopia along with his team every month to conduct operation and train the hospitals medical crew.

The hospital’s provosts say many people here are volunteering to donate their kidney a good gesture which he ascribed to the extended family culture of the nation and the affectionate bond among citizens.

Responding to questions related to the prevailing challenges, he said that there is a dearth of basic technological equipment in the country except what the U-M surgery team could bring in their bags.

“The other challenge is relatives of parents come and urge us to take out their kidneys and transplant it into their father or mother because they think the operation has no preliminary procedures. The operation requires testing their blood abroad, making a legal agreement and so many things. This calls for awareness deepening work,” he added.

The progress the hospital is making in this kind of surgical operation, the first of its kind to the country, has wide opened a room for patients for cure and our physicians to showcase their surgical and medical prowess. But these can happen only if the necessary materials are supplied to them in the local market.

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