Rise of kidney-related problems among the Nigerian youths: causes and the way forward

in StemSocial2 months ago

Those that are observant and educated enough to have the basic knowledge of the internet via the use of social media like Whatsapp, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and their likes would have noticed how common kidney problems have become in our society. Even for those that have zero use for the internet, it is possible for them to have had direct or indirect contact with someone that has been diagnosed with kidney issues. Even though there is a dearth of data in current Nigeria, one cannot but notice a sharp increase in the incidence of kidney problems in the country. What could be responsible for this?

Whatever that might be responsible for the rise in various kidney problems needs to be tackled head-on because Nigeria simply lacks the capacity to deal with the fallouts from the incidences. As of August 2019, the cost of kidney alone was as high as $262,000 according to medical futurist, an equivalence of over a hundred million in Nigerian Naira. Considering inflation and the recessive effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the world's economy, you and I know that the figure would have shot up geometrically.



In short, only the wealthy might be able to afford a kidney, and that is if a donor will come easily. Many have been placed on the list of those requiring (and can afford) kidney transplants but have not gotten a suitable donor in years. Apart from affordability, a transplanted kidney might not last the victim a lifetime because the human body eventually rejects organs that do not belong to it in the medium term. On average, a transplanted kidney lasts between 10 to 12 years according to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

Looking at the factors relating to kidney transplant, no one would wish it on themselves even if they have all the wealth in this world. Hence, there is an urgent need to stop the upward trend of kidney issues in Nigeria considering that it is a third-world country where the majority are within the poverty level. Of course, kidney-related problems are of different types, but the ones bordering around kidney failure is what this article is concerned with.

Functions of the kidney in the body

In order to delve into what might be responsible for such a trend in the country, it is imperative to remind my readers of the primary functions of the kidney. According to kidney.org, the functions of the kidney include, but not limited to the removal of waste products from the body, including drugs; osmoregulation of body fluids, regulation of blood pressure, and the control of how red blood cells are synthesized in the body system.

A normal human has a pair of kidneys but can effectively function with one, albeit with some lifestyle adjustment. The implication of this is that one might still be lucky if only one kidney is damaged. All that would be required is the surgical removal of the damaged kidney and the person can live a normal life with the remaining one, barring some lifestyle adjustment as stipulated earlier.

Causes of Kidney failure

Kidney failures can result from physical damage to the kidney or due to diabetes and high blood pressure. The loss of function of the kidney associated with diabetes and high blood pressure happens gradually and victims might be unsymptomatic until at a later stage.

In addition, some drugs have been implicated in the issue of kidney damage and or failure. These include inhalants, heroin, performance enhancing steroids, tobacco, nicotine, vaping, etc. These drugs or substances are what we now commonly see with many Nigerian youths and seem to be the new cool for the 'woke' generation. I once saw a social media post in which some youths were accused of inhaling septic tank's exhaust just to get high.

These drugs directly or indirectly impact the kidney's functions by breaching the setpoint temperature of the body, causing unusual dehydration or loss of muscle mass.source In a research conducted by Ajibola and his colleagues in 2009, about 40% of the youthful Nigerian subjects were found to have positive attitudes towards abusing drugs and other substances. While Ajibola's research was conducted in the Southwestern region of the country, a similar result (56% of the subjects) was obtained in the Northern region in a research conducted in the same year by Idris and Sambo. In 2017, about 24% of students in a particular Nigerian university were found to have taken one or more drugs for recreational purposes.source

How do drugs cause kidney damage/failure?

The final pathway for the excretion of drugs and their metabolites is provided by the kidney. The metabolites are concentrated by water rearbsoption activities of the kidney and a high concentration of metabolites has the capacity to cause nephrotoxicity of the kidney. According to Phamaceutical Journal, the effects of drugs and their metabolites on the kidney can be categorised into 4 including direct nephrotoxicity, pre-renal effects, obstructive uropathy, and allergic damage.



Even though there are no available research to support the claim, the rise in the inicidence of kidney failure among youths in Nigeria can be hypothesized to be due to the effects of drug and substance abuse. Different psychoactive drugs that are quite popular among the youths have been linked to kidney damage and failure. There is an urgent need to reverse the trend of dug and substance abuses by the youth because the economic, emotional, and social effects of kidney failure is quite devastating.

What do you think?


Very interesting.
I am from Europe (Belgium) and to see how it goes in Nigeria is quite sad. Having to pay so much to stay alive and well is unfortunate.
Would it be possible to do prevention with young people? Make young people aware of the harmful effects of drugs on their kidneys, but not only ...
Thank you for this article which opens our eyes to these health problems in Nigeria, and also in the world.