The Dr Martha Namundjebo-Tilahun Foundation and the Kidney Care Centre lead by Dr Glendah Kalunga, the only nephrologist and specialist kidney physician in Namibia, will be offering free screening for kidney disease.
Screenings will take place in various communities in the northern and southern parts of Namibia commencing October 20. The main aim is to provide Namibians with the opportunity to examine their kidney function.
The Foundation says the reason it is doing the screening is because people in regions other than the Khomas have limited access to specialists.
Kalunga said this collaboration and healthcare screening drive is just the first of many to come, as the aim is to provide kidney disease screening services to all Namibians.
The long term aim is to “provide preventative measures, as well as institute care to reverse potentially reversible kidney injury, retard the progression of already established chronic kidney disease and offer continuous renal replacement therapy (dialysis) for those that require it,” Kalunga said in the statement.
Ultimately, the Foundation wants to facilitate kidney transplant procedures for those with end-stage kidney disease. Namundjebo-Tilahun, the founder and chairperson of the foundation, is co-owner and chairperson of United Africa Group, a privately owned multi-billion-dollar business conglomerate in Namibia that has been in operation since 1992.
“The DMNT Foundation takes pride in providing health services to Namibians, this was showcased in August 2016, where the Foundation partnered with the IEP Mission, which consisted of specialist doctors from America to perform free surgical correction for lower leg deformities in Namibians,” read the statement.
“Part of the Foundation’s objective is to provide healthcare services to Namibians, especially the African girl child, because healthcare is paramount to building an effective nation. This is why the Foundation wishes to provide free kidney screening to Namibians with limited access to specialist medical services.”
The kidney performs critical life sustaining functions, such as extracting waste from the blood, balance body fluids, form urine, and aid in other important functions in the body.
These functions include filtering out toxins, excess salts, nitrogen-based waste created by cell metabolism, water level balancing: the kidneys are key in chemical breakdown of urine so they react to changes in the body’s water level throughout the day. When water intake decreases, the kidneys adjust accordingly and leave water in the body, and vice versa.
There is also the function of blood pressure regulation: the kidneys need constant pressure to filter the blood. When it drops too low, the kidneys increase the pressure, by producing a blood vessel-constricting protein (angiotensin); that also signals the body to retain sodium and water. All this helps restore normal blood pressure.
Red blood cell regulation: when the kidneys do not get enough oxygen, they send out a distress signal in the form of erythropoietin, a hormone that stimulates the bone marrow to produce more oxygen carrying red blood cells.
Acid regulation: As cells metabolise, they produce acids. Foods we eat can either increase the acid in the body or neutralise it. If the body is to function properly, it needs to keep a healthy balance of these chemicals. The kidneys do that.
Bone-mineral maintenance: the kidneys are also involved in maintaining bone and mineral health by, converting Vitamin D to its active form and regulating the calcium, phosphate and magnesium; thereby maintaining bone and mineral health.
Because of all the vital functions that the kidneys perform and the toxins they encounter, the kidneys are susceptible to various problems and injury. Some of these elements that can cause kidney injury are infections, blood clotting disorders, decreased blood flow caused by low blood pressure, autoimmune kidney disorders, urinary tract infections, complications from surgery, dehydration, and chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension and HIV.
Because of the critical function that the kidneys perform in the body and the risk to injury, it is of cardinal importance to screen for kidney disease and maintain the wellbeing of the kidneys.