Monday, 15 June 2009

Children with kidney problems increasing in India

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Ten-year-old Obaid Ahmed shudders to drink water. For, the more he drinks water the more he has to go to toilet. Suffering from a congenital urological defect, he cannot fully empty his urinary bladder. He has to undergo the trauma of inserting a plastic catheter to clear the urine accumulated in the bladder.
Obaid is one of the 48 lakh children in the State suffering from one or other renal or kidney-related health problem, needing immediate medical attention. Like Obaid, a majority of these children hail from the lower strata of society and their parents are too poor to bear the cost of treatment.
According to Dr Ramesh Ramayya, director of Dr Ramayya's Urology Nephrology Services, more children are born with defects in kidneys, ureters and bladder than that of the heart or any other organ. "These children, if not treated early and followed up regularly until adolescence, may end up with permanent kidney damage", he warns.
Dr Ramesh recently set up the Image Hospitals - Dr GP Ramayya Medical and Research Foundation to take care of poor children with kidney problems. The Foundation has applied for IT exemption and is in the process of enrolling children with kidney defects.
It has also reimbursed the cost of treatment to three children including Obaid. "We have just started the foundation. Our project is to save children with kidney problems", he said.
He said several studies in India have suggested the acuteness of the problem and financial constraints to treat these children. "Based on demographic data, there are 48 lakh children in Andhra Pradesh alone with renal problems requiring treatment. Unfortunately, the number is going up", he adds.
Obaid was born with posterior urethral valves. His incomplete emptying of bladder led to weakening of his bladder and back-pressure changes in the kidneys resulting in damage to his kidneys. The problem was first diagnosed when Obaid was two years old. He has since been visiting Dr Ramayya's hospital with persistent urinary tract infection every three-four months proven microbilogically for which he is on a long-term antibiotic prophylaxis. His present condition is stable chronic renal failure.
Says Dr Ramayya, "if we have to prevent further damage to Obaid's kidneys, the boy needs monthly blood tests and urine culture, ultrasonic scan of the kidneys and bladder every three months and renogram every six months. Our aim is to keep close surveillance to prevent further damage to the kidneys called end-stage renal disease. Presently, the boy needs Rs 1500 to Rs 2000 every month and his father with a meagre salary is not in a position to afford treatment".
The child may need a kidney transplant which involves an expenditure of about Rs three lakh.

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