The Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital, Ile-Ife is one of the three centres marked for the treatment of kidney failure. SEMIU OKANLAWON, who visited the centre last week however captures the frustrations of the management of the centre with its dwindling capacity to put smile on the faces of the afflicted

  As you step into the Renal Centre of the Awolowo University Teaching Hospital, Ile-Ife, Osun state, you are immediately warned that kidney failure spares no one. Frightened? No! Don’t be. You only require to see prof. Wale. Akinsola, head of the centre who has since been tendering those suffering from malfunctioning kidneys. But this 14-year old renal treatment centre is itself sick. And that is the cry of Akinsola and the entire teaching hospital management who believe that something urgent needs to be done if the Renal Unit will not become a patient on admission.

   The university is one of the three recognized by the Federal Government as kidney transplant centres in the country. At recognition, the government doled out a sum of N20 million to the hospital for its take-off. Since then however, nothing has been forthcoming.

  Rather than go to the government cap-in-hand all the time, the management has resolved to adopt the survival strategy of similar institutions in other parts of the world which rely on the will of philanthropists and special endowments.

  “In other countries , such institutions are allowed to stay on their own through NGOs or endowments and that is what we are striving to achieve by calling on Nigerians that are  capable of helping us, “ says Prof. David Olayinka Akinola, the Chief Medical Director of the hospital.

    If you think this is an ailment that chooses its victims sparsely, wait till Akinsola, the unit boss tells you that a survey carried out by the hospital shows that an incidence of about 300 to 400 cases are recorded in every one million of the adult population.

  The centre, established in 1989, has grown over the years to handle kidney problems through hemodialysis, which is the filtering of blood through dialysis machine. Accord-ding to Akinsola, no fewer than 304 people suffering from chronic renal problems had benefited from this treatment option since inception.

  Hitches such as power failure and inadequate water supply however, led the centre to also adopt an alternative therapy called Continuous Ambulatory Dialysis. This method does not rely on the modern technology such as electricity coupled with the fact that it is not costly as the first one. This has also helped in bringing kidney management to the rural areas.

  Then, its most vital therapy option, kidney transplantation has recorded three successful cases. One of them, sadly enough, died after the operation had been concluded. And what killed him? He could not afford the costly maintenance drugs which must be procured every week at least for the first six months of the kidney replacement.

  Femi Aladeloye, 34 year-old teacher at the Tai Solarin College of Education, Ijebu-Ode in Ogun state was around at the hospital.

  Though he looked robust enough, having recovered substantially from the ailment after the operation, he has been spending a sum of N60,000 every month to procure drugs to maintain  himself after the renal replacement.

  “And it could have been more but for the hospital that has been subsidizing in some of the things we use. Now, the hospital is saying it can no longer cope with the subsidy be-cause there is no money to help us again,” he says.

  Toriola Ola was the patient that died six months after the operation.

  That was because he could not afford the drugs. And that is why we are crying out that this centre is well equipped in terms of personnel. We have sent a good number of people to advanced countries where they have been trained. They are back. The problem we have now is how to get enough machinery to work with and be financially strong enough to help most of these patients. The drugs are too costly. Of what use is saving their lives with successful kidney replacement when they will still die for inability to buy drugs they need?” Akinsola asks.

  Another successful case of kidney transplant, Evelyn Bisola Olounda has also been finding it difficult getting her drugs. Seeing these people battle for survival after they had undergone treatment at the centre makes Akinsola’s heart ache.

  According to the renal centre boss, the population of Nigerians with renal failure coming to the centre necessitates the procurement of additional dialysis machines which are just five at the centre at the moment.

  “We have reached a stage where we can no longer subsidize anything at this unit. One thing is that the OAUTECH has justified the initial take-off fund given to us just as the other two institutions were given. We have recorded three successful cases of transplant and many people have benefited from our dialysis therapy. But the problems here are mounting. And we cannot cope again,” says the CMD.

Source: The PUNCH, Friday, November 7, 2003 Page 15