NKTI intensifies info drive on kidney disease, now 7th top killer in Bicol

The National Kidney and Transplant Institute has intensified in Bicol its information campaign on kidney care and disease that now ranks 7th among 10 top killer diseases in the region.

This campaign is not only for the ongoing observance of the National Kidney Month but also a continuing initiative to keep Bicolanos informed on how to take care of their kidneys while they are healthy or deal with the disease once ailed, Dr. Edwin Tan, a nephrologist attached with the NKTI, said over the week here.

NKTI is the main implementing agency of the Renal Disease Control Program of the Department of Health.

Tan said it is important for the Bicolanos or the Filipinos to be fully educated on the proper way of caring for their kidneys, especially that many of those who are affected by a kidney disease remain unaware until it reaches the end stage renal disease.

June of each year is being observed in the country as National Kidney Month by virtue of an executive order issued by former Pres. Fidel Ramos in May 1993 in an effort to broaden public awareness on kidney care, disease prevention and treatment once the organ is already damaged.

According to Tan, who is an expert in the diagnosis and management of kidney disease, the renal failure at its ESRD is on the ninth spot out of the top 10 causes of death in the country.

The other nine, according to their ranks, are heart disease, pneumonia, hypertension, neoplasms or tumors, tuberculosis, trauma/injuries, cerebro vascular and septicemia.

In Bicol, the Dept. of Health’s regional office based in Daraga, Albay, however, placed ESRD in the seventh rank among these killer diseases — with heart disease, pneumonia and hypertension remaining as the top three killer diseases in the region, based on its 2011 records.

Records for 2012 were yet to be consolidated, DOH regional director Gloria Balboa said over the week.

DOH recorded 953 deaths in the region caused by kidney disease in 2011 to occupy the seventh place among the 10 with heart ailments, killing 4,307, to land on top; followed by pneumonia, 3,483 deaths; and hypertension, 2,354.

Neoplasms placed fourth with 1,513 deaths; tuberculosis, fifth with 1,357; trauma/injuries, sixth for 1,353 deaths; cerebro vascular, eight with 791; diabetes, ninth with 757; and septicemia, 10th with 595 during the same period.

Other leading ailments that kill thousands of Bicolanos are acute upper respiratory infection, influenza, diarrhea, acute lower respiratory tract infection, bronchitis, musculoskeletal disorders, asthma, and anemia, the DOH said.

Renal failure (formerly called renal insufficiency or chronic renal insufficiency), Tan said, is a situation in which the kidneys fail to function adequately.

There are two forms of kidney problems– acute (acute kidney injury) and chronic (chronic kidney disease) — and either form, he said, may be due to a large number of other medical problems.

CKD is measured in five stages, which are calculated using a patient’s glomerular filtration rate that tells how much kidney functions a person has, Tan said.

“It may be estimated from your blood level of creatinine. If your GFR falls below 30 you will need to see a nephrologist. Your kidney doctor will speak to you about treatments for kidney failure like dialysis or kidney transplant,” he explained.

A GFR below 15, on the other hand, Tan said, indicates that a patient needs to start one of the five treatments wherein Stage 1 is for kidney that is 90 percent functional.

Chronic kidney disease risk reduction and further development may be avoided under this stage.

Stage 2 is when damage to kidney makes it only 60-89 functional; Stage 3 when there is moderate decrease in GFR and the kidney is 30 to 59 percent functional; and Stage 4 for severe decrease in GFR and the kidney is 15 to 29 functional.

By Stage 5, Tan said, there is kidney failure, making the organ only five percent functional and a replacement therapy (dialysis or transplantation) is highly advised.

Patients in Stages 4 and 5 usually require preparation of the patient towards active treatment in order to survive.

Stage 5 CKD is considered a severe illness and requires dialysis or kidney transplant whenever feasible, he explained.

For Bicolano patients, Tan said, peritoneal dialysis, a much less expensive process than hemodialysis is now available at the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital in Legazpi City.

NKTI, meanwhile, runs the Hemodialysis Center in Manila that serves as specialty center for the prevention and treatment of kidney and allied diseases provided with the most technologically advanced equipment providing the highest level of hemodialysis service in the Philippines.

Presently, NKTI has 43 units of hemodialysis machines that operate 24 hours a day, Monday to Saturday, to provide efficient services to patients with an average number of 34,283 per year.

Over time, NKTI has been maximizing all possible opportunities to further improve and extend the services to the increasing demands of patients on hemodialysis treatment.

In 2012, the center provided 45,465 treatment sessions from more than 300 regular outpatients operating 24/7.