The Urgent Need for a State of Emergency on Kidney Disease in Nigeria By Emmanuel Odekina Iyede

by Ohepo Ohepo

The prevalence of chronic kidney disease (CKD) has been rising in Nigeria in recent years, posing a serious danger to the health and well-being of the country’s population. An alarming percentage of Nigerians are afflicted by this silent killer, which is sometimes undetected until it has caused irreversible harm. According to estimates from the Nigeria Renal Association, 10% of Nigerians have renal disease. But according to data from Kidney International Supplements, the situation may be even worse, with prevalence rates as high as 18%, which translates to nearly 36 million people with CKD in Nigeria. The fight against this illness is made more difficult by the apparent disparity in data accuracy, even in spite of the startling figures.

Infections, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, and high blood pressure are the main causes of chronic kidney disease (CKD) in Nigeria. The vital necessity for early identification and care is highlighted by the disease’s development to end-stage renal failure, which requires dialysis or a transplant. However, the sensitivity of Nigerians to kidney disease is disproportionately increased by a mix of environmental risks, lifestyle factors, and genetic predispositions, including the intake of processed foods and exposure to hazardous chemicals.

Another important factor that should not be disregarded is the cost of maintaining chronic kidney disease in Nigeria. Most affected people cannot afford necessary therapy since kidney transplants cost between N7 million and N10 million, while dialysis costs about N600,000 each month. The health situation is made worse by this economic burden, which could result in a higher death rate from renal failure than from illnesses like malaria, which have traditionally drawn more attention.

It is essential that the Nigerian government proclaim a state of emergency regarding kidney illness due to the intricate web of causes, the major impact on the healthcare system, and the enormous socioeconomic ramifications. This statement ought to operate as a strong call to action, bringing resources to bear and encouraging cooperation between medical experts, legislators, and the general public.

A comprehensive approach that includes early detection, treatment accessibility, and prevention is necessary to effectively combat chronic kidney disease (CKD). Campaigns by public health organisations to increase knowledge of the signs and risk factors of renal disease can be extremely important in kidney disease prevention. Putting money into the infrastructure of healthcare, such as building more dialysis facilities and making kidney transplants easier, will take care of the patients’ urgent needs. Furthermore, enacting laws governing the quality of food and consumer goods may lessen the hazards associated with lifestyle choices and the environment that are fueling the rise in cases of chronic kidney disease.

In addition to saving lives, the Nigerian government’s decision to declare a state of emergency will lessen the financial strain on families and the hospital system. It is an essential step in preserving the nation’s health and future. Let’s not wait for things to get worse before taking action. To stop the spread of kidney disease in Nigeria, action must be taken immediately and resolutely.

Preventive and Curative Measures for Chronic Kidney Disease in Nigeria

The escalating prevalence of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) in Nigeria calls for an urgent response not just from the government and healthcare providers but also from the general public. Understanding how to prevent this disease and the available curative measures can significantly reduce the burden of CKD on individuals, families, and the broader health system. Here are practical steps and strategies that everyone can adopt to mitigate the risk of developing kidney disease and to manage it effectively if already diagnosed.

Preventive Measures:

1. Maintain a Healthy Blood Pressure and Blood Sugar Level: High blood pressure and diabetes are the leading causes of CKD. Regular monitoring, along with appropriate lifestyle changes and medications as prescribed by a healthcare provider, can help manage these conditions.

2. Adopt a Healthy Diet: A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy can help prevent CKD. Limit your intake of salt, sugar, and foods high in saturated fats to manage blood pressure and body weight.

3. Stay Hydrated: Drinking sufficient water helps the kidneys clear sodium, urea, and toxins from the body, reducing the risk of chronic kidney disease.

4. Limit the Use of Over-the-Counter Painkillers: Regular use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen can cause kidney damage if taken regularly over a long period. Use these medications sparingly and only as directed.

5. Avoid Tobacco and Limit Alcohol Consumption: Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can harm the kidneys and exacerbate kidney damage.

6. Exercise Regularly: Physical activity helps control weight and reduce blood pressure, both of which are important for preventing CKD.

7. Get Regular Kidney Function Tests: Especially if you have one or more of the risk factors for CKD, regular screening can help detect any kidney damage early, allowing for timely intervention.

Curative Measures:

While CKD cannot be completely cured, especially in its later stages, there are treatments available that can help manage symptoms, reduce complications, and slow the progression of the disease.

1. Medication: Medications can manage symptoms and complications of CKD such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, anemia, swelling, and bone health issues. It’s crucial to take all medications as prescribed and to communicate with your healthcare provider about any side effects.

2. Dietary Changes: Depending on the stage of CKD, dietary restrictions may be necessary to limit the intake of certain nutrients like potassium, phosphorus, and sodium, which can be harmful in later stages of the disease.

3. Dialysis: This treatment method removes waste products and excess fluid from the blood when the kidneys can no longer do so effectively. There are two main types of dialysis: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.

4. Kidney Transplant: In cases of end-stage renal disease, a kidney transplant may be the best treatment option. This involves receiving a healthy kidney from a donor, which can restore normal kidney function.

5. Lifestyle Modifications: Continuing to maintain a healthy lifestyle is crucial for managing CKD. This includes regular exercise, abstaining from smoking, and following dietary recommendations.

Public awareness and education on CKD prevention and treatment are key to reducing the incidence and impact of kidney disease in Nigeria. Through collective efforts and adherence to preventive measures and recommended treatments, it’s possible to improve the quality of life for those affected and to prevent many cases of CKD from developing in the first place.

A Wake-Up Call to Regulatory Bodies and Health Ministries in Nigeria

The escalating crisis of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) in Nigeria is not just a health issue but a clarion call for immediate action from all sectors involved in public health and safety. The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), and the Ministry of Health at both the federal and state levels must rise to the occasion with innovative and stringent measures to combat this silent epidemic.


As the body responsible for regulating and controlling the manufacture, importation, exportation, advertisement, distribution, sale, and use of food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, and chemicals, NAFDAC has a critical role in mitigating one of the primary risk factors for CKD – exposure to harmful substances. It is imperative that NAFDAC intensifies its efforts in:

1. Strengthening Surveillance and Enforcement: Ensuring compliance with safety standards for food and drugs is non-negotiable. Rigorous testing and monitoring must be expanded, especially for imported goods and locally produced items that may contain harmful preservatives or chemicals.

2. Public Awareness Campaigns: Educating the public about the dangers of unregulated products and how to identify them is crucial. Awareness campaigns should utilize all forms of media to reach the widest possible audience.

3. Collaboration with International Bodies: Partnering with international health and safety organizations can facilitate the exchange of information on best practices and emerging threats related to food and drug safety.


The Standards Organisation of Nigeria must enforce quality standards across all sectors to ensure that products and services do not pose health risks to the population. This includes:

1. Implementing Strict Quality Control Measures: All consumer products, especially those with potential health risks, should meet high-quality standards. Regular inspections and quality tests should be mandated and conducted.

2. Certification and Compliance: SON should work towards making certification more rigorous and ensuring that all manufacturers and importers comply with Nigerian Industrial Standards.

3. Public Engagement: Raising awareness about the importance of quality standards and how to recognize certified products can empower consumers to make safer choices.

To the Ministry of Health at Federal and State Levels:

The Ministry of Health bears the ultimate responsibility for the nation’s public health. Addressing the CKD crisis requires:

1. Policy Development: Crafting and implementing policies that promote kidney health, including guidelines for managing CKD and facilitating access to affordable treatment.

2. Infrastructure Investment: Increasing investment in healthcare infrastructure to ensure that facilities for early detection and treatment of CKD are accessible, especially in underserved areas.

3. Health Education: Launching nationwide health education programs focusing on preventive measures such as healthy eating, regular exercise, and the dangers of substance abuse.

4. Partnerships for Health: Collaborating with NGOs, private sector partners, and international health organizations can pool resources and expertise to fight CKD more effectively.

The battle against CKD in Nigeria is one that requires the concerted efforts of all stakeholders. NAFDAC, SON, and the Ministry of Health at all levels must rise to the challenge with urgency, innovation, and unwavering commitment. By implementing smart, targeted strategies, we can protect the health of the Nigerian population and reduce the burden of chronic kidney disease. It’s time for action. Let this be the wake-up call that spurs us into collective, decisive action.

Emmanuel Odekina Iyede writes from Abuja, Nigeria.
Emmanuel is an Environmental and ICT Consultant and the founder, The Bureau Newspaper.

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