Why I wrote ‘How to prevent kidney disease’ – Dr. Elliot Koranteng Tannor

The number of cases of chronic kidney disease is on the increase worldwide and in Ghana. In Ghana about 13 out of every 100 people have some form of kidney disease. This means some almost four million Ghanaians have chronic kidney disease. Unfortunately, some end in kidney failure and will require dialysis or kidney transplant to survive.

As a kidney specialist it is disheartening to see young and old, men and women come in with all forms of kidney diseases in very late stages or kidney failure where there is very little that can be done to salvage their ailing kidneys, leading to death.

Over 70% of patients come in with kidney failure and have to be on dialysis three times a week to survive. It costs averagely about GH¢900 a week to undergo dialysis session and about GH¢3,600 a month just of dialysis. How many people earn this amount of money even as salary for the month? This amount does not include medications required and the laboratory services needed every now and then for their optimum management to improve the quality of life of patients with kidney failure. Most patients just cannot afford care in Ghana when in kidney failure.

Unfortunately, most people are ignorant about the causes of kidney disease and how to prevent them. This saddens my heart as a kidney specialist. Our social media platforms and television stations are flooded with so many people seeking funds to sustain themselves on dialysis or for kidney transplant. It’s always a worrying sight to behold and most of these folks end up losing their lives to this disease which is less discussed as a major health problem in Ghana.

The most common causes of kidney disease are hypertension, diabetes, the prolonged use of pain medications and some herbal medications and a host of other conditions and infections that can affect the kidneys in diverse ways. You could also inherit kidney disease from your parents and develop kidney failure as you grow.

As a kidney specialist, I could not bear this anymore as time and time again I see patients come in and unable to afford care and die right on admission. Up to 50% of patients admitted to the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital with kidney disease die on admission and many more after they are discharged. I therefore decided to step out of my consulting room to educate the populace on ways to prevent kidney disease with the hope to decrease the burden of kidney disease as I promote kidney health with simple messages to the ordinary man on the street. If they abide by these simple rules, they can prevent kidney disease largely.

I have therefore dedicated a substantial part of my time to educate the populace on radio, television, written articles for publication and on social media about ways to prevent kidney disease. These education programmes have impacted greatly the populace in diverse ways. Most beneficiaries of these education programmes suggested that I find time to put what I educate them on in a material they can refer to at all times to educate themselves and their families. Hence the book ‘How to prevent kidney disease’!

In this book, I have used very simple language that everyone can understand and there are no big medical jargons that are confusing. I have highlighted answers to the 10 most common questions I am asked during public engagements. These topics are grouped into three main segments;

  1. Things everyone must know about the kidney
  2. The essential functions of the kidney
  3. How to prevent kidney disease

The book is divided into 10 main chapters and starts off with the fact that we each have two kidneys that work together. Here, I reiterate the fact that most people have two kidneys which work together. There is an extensive discussion on the need to look out for kidney disease as it does not show symptoms in most cases until very late. I then discuss the essential functions of the kidneys which will blow your mind. I then discuss from ‘A to K’, very vital information on how to prevent kidney disease.

I complete the book with a glossary of some of the medical terms introduced and explained in the text for readers to refer to should they require further explanation.

The book is going to be launched at the Calvary Baptist Church Auditorium at Shiashie in Accra on the 12th September, 2020 at 2:00pm prompt and every one can come there for their autographed copy to support the work to decrease the burden of kidney disease in Ghana and beyond.

You need to grab a copy and grab one for a friend and a family member. This book will save your life or that of your family member or friend.

Dr. Elliot Koranteng Tannor
Senior Specialist Physician/Nephrologist
Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital