Urine abnormality, an alarm call for serious kidney problem

Renal disease remains to be the leading cause of death in the Philippines, said City Health Officer Edgardo Sandig at a recent Philippine Information Agency 12-initiated focus group discussion (FGD).

He said renal or kidney disease is the 7th leading cause of death among Filipinos.

Sandig described the terminal stage in medical term as End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), which the government and other stakeholders, he said, are trying to reduce by 2016.

Although the number of renal disease case here is not very high as compared to other areas in the country, Sandig said it is still a problem and should not be taken complacently.

According to the City Health Office report, Renal Disease in GenSan for the period January-June 2013 is 307. In 2012, reported cases were listed only at 155 with 100 deaths.

This year’s cases, which increased in just a span of 6 months, CHO said is significantly alarming. But Sandig said the city government is doing its best to address the problem of renal disease here citing the ongoing construction of the Dialysis Center within the General Santos City District Hospital’s compound.

Of the 26 barangays in GenSan, the 2013 top five with high incidence of renal disease, according to the report are San Isidro, 60; City Heights, 30; Mabuhay, 20; Lagao, 19; and Dadiangas North, 14.

Medical experts said the three leading causes of ESRD are diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and obesity. These three, together “account for almost 70%” of patients undergoing dialysis.

The city health officer also advised people here to rule out or “think urinary tract infection or UTI last.”

“Like hypertension, majority of urine abnormalities will be UTI. You earn your points when you pick out and correctly diagnose urine abnormalities due to conditions other than UTI,” he stressed.

He lamented that people usually think of UTI everytime they have urinary abnormality when it is actually an alarm call for serious kidney problem.

Sandig then encouraged the public to go for an early detection and have their urine checked regularly to prevent the disease from developing saying “prevention is better than a pound of cure.”

Treatment cost for a renal disease patient undergoing a dialysis plus medication is estimated around P.5-M per year.

“If we add frequent hospitalizations, lab exams, blood transfusions, and loss of income, then the total cost of care for a dialysis patient is more than P1-M per year,” Sandig explained saying a patient can also opt for transplantation.

In Koronadal City, Dr. Edito Vego, rural health physician said kidney disease is one the leading causes of death in the city.

“Kidneys can fail rapidly, over a period of a few days, or slowly over many months or years,” he said urging the town folk to seek appropriate medical attention for any suspected symptoms of the disease.

If kidney disease is left untreated, he explained “it can lead to additional kidney damage and possible kidney failure.” The most effective way, according to him to reduce kidney disease is to prevent it from developing.

But “if you and your family are at risk for kidney disease because of genetics or predisposition to diabetes and obesity, it is important to eat a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in salt and cholesterol, and to maintain a healthy body weight starting from childhood.”

The National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) said that every hour there is “one Filipino who develops chronic renal failure or an equivalent of “about 120 Filipinos per million population per year.”

NKTI added that “more than 5,000 Filipino patients are presently undergoing dialysis and approximately 1.1 million people worldwide are on renal replacement therapy.”

Meanwhile, the FGD also led for DepEd GenSan to express concern over the absence of regular urine test in public schools saying there is also a need to monitor the extent of school-aged children being affected or to be affected by kidney problem.

Herben Allado, DepEd GenSan nurse-in-charge asked the City Health Office then to sponsor a pilot random urine test with two students coming from Grades 1-6 in select public elementary schools in GenSan.

Initial plan reveals the random urine check is to be scheduled in October this year with DepEd GenSan as lead together with the City Health Office and the PIA-12.

The FGD formed part of the national government’s Renal Disease Control Program or RedCop advocacy for Region 12. RedCop serves as implementing-arm of “NKTI’s public health projects on the prevention and control of renal and other related diseases” in the Philippines.