By WANPIS AKO
THE kidneys’ function in the human body is not only limited to filtering blood and removing wastes through urine.
Filtered blood circulates to other organs through the kidneys. Thus, they play a crucial role to support the body.
Kidney disease is non-communicable and its effect on the global population accounts for close to 860 million people worldwide.
It can be prevented through having access to relevant diagnostics and early treatment.
In Papua New Guinea, some with kidney failure have been silently killed due to insufficient or unaffordable access to lifesaving dialysis and kidney transplants whilst others who can afford the services, are still alive.
Those who cannot afford these medical services are at least being treated and supported by PNG Kidney Foundation Incorporated (PNGKFI) which is located at Kennedy Estate in the city. Established in 2009, it has 12 fully-capacitated dialysis machines.
In collaboration with the foundation and Active City Development Programme, hundreds of city residents took to the streets during the weekly Walk and Yoga for Life on the morning of Sunday, March 15 to mark World Kidney Day which is aimed at increasing awareness on the significance of kidneys.
The walking feet spoke volumes that they were making a commitment to take actions to improve the health of their kidneys.
World Kidney Day falls on March 12 annually. NCD Governor Powes Parkop, with Port Moresby General Hospital CEO Dr Paki Molumi and other VIPs, led the walk under the global theme-‘Kidney Health for Everyone Everywhere – from Prevention to Detection and Equitable Access to Care.’
At the end of the walk along the Paga Hill Ring Road, kidney failure and transplant patients also testified.
The country’s youngest kidney dialysis patient is Kipling Gewa, 28, from Sohe in Northern. He is being treated by the PNGKFI.
Kidney transplant patient Angelito Ri Guinto called on PNG citizens to take healthy and organic food, and drink more water for the health of the kidneys.
He discouraged people from taking too much salt, saying he himself started to be on more water, vegetables, fruits, fish and chicken after the transplant operation overseas.
Governor Parkop renewed his call for everyone to practise healthy lifestyle habits and good hygiene. He was speaking at the end of the walk.
He said nobody knew when he or she was going to die, adding the important take-home message for everyone from the occasion was to control their diets and live healthy to extend longevity.
Parkop further said he started practising a healthy lifestyle in 2014 when he was in his 50s.
It was difficult to control body weight and practise healthy lifestyle but he finally managed to, he continued.
When one is healthy, he or she has healthy body and mindset with high values so he or she can contribute meaningfully to the national building and outcome, according to him.
“If you amputate your limbs, you will still survive. If you lose one of your eyes or ears, you will still survive as well. But, if your kidneys are not working, you are doomed to die unless you afford a kidney transplant overseas,” he told them.
He said kidneys were equally critical as the heart or other organs.
“We won’t be prosperous if we do not take good care of our health. Our health is the foundation of everything. The world economies will rise and fall depending on the health of their people. Your air force will only fly, your army will only march and your navy will only sail if they are healthy,” he said.
Fellow speaker Dr Molumi said eating healthy food and regular physical exercise like the walk, was good for the body organs.
Dr Molumi discouraged everyone from taking alcohol, soft drinks and processed food.
He said 90 per cent of factors contributing to kidney failure were within our control.
He added that the more investment done on programmes like the Active City, the more the cost of healthcare could be reduced in the country.
If the programme was replicated in all centres, it would help impact the national health system, he said.
According to a leaflet supplied by PNGKFI, kidney disease is caused by uncontrolled diabetes, high blood pressure, infection, kidney stone disease, other-inherited disease and glomerulonephritis (inflammation disease of the kidneys).
It also states that people with diabetes, uncontrolled high blood pressure, health disease, obesity and who are 50 years old and above, were at risk.
It further said one can protect him or herself from kidney disease if he or she does early detection through regular medical check-ups, is compliant to medications prescribed by one’s doctor, eats a well-balanced diet with more fruits and vegetables, reduces taking salt, saturated fats and cholesterol intakes and takes two to three litres of water daily, ceases smoking, exercises regularly with controlled body weight and avoids unnecessary medication.
We are our own nurses and doctors because the responsibility to look after our health and hygiene lies with each one of us.
Healthy kidneys means healthy bodies. Let us get it right for our own longevity.
The ball is in our court.
- The author is the NCDC Media and Public Relations manager