The huge increase in the number of Samoans undergoing dialysis treatment is alarming.
This was confirmed by the National Kidney Foundation General Manager, Mulipola Iose Hazelman.
He said there is an increase in end-stage renal disease patients who require dialysis support, the age at onset, survival rates, young dialysis patients and complexity of co-morbidities.
And this, he said, should be a wake up call for Samoa.
Manager of Renal Services, Christina Poloai, also expressed similar sentiments.
“The dialysis started back in 2005 with only five patients, fast forward now, 12 years later, it’s increased significantly to 103 patients.
“It’s a huge increase,” the General Manager told the Samoa Observer yesterday.
“The last survey indicated the increase was 23 per cent of Samoa’s population who are either diabetic or hypertension.”
“Eighty per cent of our patients who are on dialysis either started from unmanaged diabetes or unmanaged high blood pressure.”
He is adamant the numbers would increase.
“In May 2017, we had to add another shift to meet the demands of the increasing numbers.
“We have 22 machines and so before we had only three shifts and it’s now increased to four shifts,” said Mulipola.
He told the Samoa Observer they had an awareness campaign and free screening currently being held in partnership with the Women in Business and Medical Students from National University of Samoa.
“This is where we go out in the villages and try to give lectures and offer assistance particularly those with chronic diseases in Samoa.
“We will probably get some figures by April 2018 on the increasing numbers.
“But we know it is a big problem because Samoa has a huge, non-communicable disease burden.
“And it will continue to increase,” said Mulipola.
“Also we have found relatively younger patients on dialysis, stemming from N.C.D’s between the ages of 29-50.
“Before, the norm with the patients coming in for dialysis would be between 55 and above, but we are now seeing this new trend of those under 30’s,” said Mulipola.
“This suggests that our people are getting N.C.D’s at a younger age, at primary or secondary schools.
“We have students who are not on dialysis due to nephrotic syndrome, but most of the patients are due to unmanaged diabetes,” said Mulipola.
Mulipola reminded members of the public that treatment of diabetes and high blood pressure is free of charge.
“I guess that people don’t know but these services are available.
“But in the meantime, we are trying to reach out to every village in Samoa for the next five years,” said Mulipola.
The General Manager announced the National Kidney Foundation on Wednesdays and Thursdays have free clinics and it’s open to the public to come and do a checkup.
“This is important, because your life may depend on it in the long run.”
Mulipola said their foundation had corporate visits where businesses and government offices could call in and request for a free clinic and they would do it.
“It’s free, however we would welcome a donation,” he said.
“There are government offices that have a required every six months checkups and that is good too, because we are trying to reach as many people as we can, so when the results come out, we can immediately take action, as to what is the next step.
“Early detection does prolong and saves lives,” said Mulipola.
He said they were looking to renovate a building to cater for the increase in number of patients.
The National Kidney Foundation is 100 per cent fully funded by the government.