Chronic kidney disease – The ‘neglected’ Non-Communicable Disease in Ghana

Non communicable diseases (NCDs) have been of great concern lately with increasing morbidity and mortality. Despite the attention given to non-communicable diseases worldwide and in developing countries, chronic kidney disease and its complications is not highlighted. Chronic kidney disease has increasing incidence and prevalence and also complicates both communicable and communicable diseases. It has high morbidy, mortality and greatly affects quality of life.

In Ghana, chronic glomerulonephritis is the most common cause of chronic kidney disease followed by diabetes and hypertension. There is anecdotal evidence that the excessive use of herbal medications also compounds the problem. Management of end stage renal disease is very expensive and most patients cannot afford renal replacement therapy. A concerted effort is needed by all stakeholders to recognise kidney disease as an important non-communicable disease to reduce the disease burden.

Review of Hypertension in sub-Saharan Africa

The prevalence of hypertension in sub-Saharan Africa is high and it is the main driver for cardiovascular diseases in the region. Cardiovascular diseases are associated with high morbidity and mortality worldwide. The high prevalence of hypertension in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) can be attributed to rural-urban migration, high salt intake, smoking of tobacco and inadequate exercise. Awareness and control of hypertension is generally low with women having better control rates as compared to men. Untreated hypertension is associated with stroke, myocardial infarction and renal failure. The management of hypertension in the sub region is a major challenge due to financial constraints and inadequate resources. Hypertension is struggling to gain priority as a major health threat as infectious diseases like Human Immunodeficiency virus (HIV), tuberculosis (TB) and malaria are the main focus of most public health institutions. Hypertension is largely preventable and can be easily controlled using evidence based practices such as regular exercises, decreasing salt intake, cessation of smoking and alcohol intake and the usage of antihypertensives. Non-communicable diseases such as hypertension are rapidly overtaking communicable diseases in the sub-Saharan region and pose a major health threat. There is a need to prioritize cardiovascular diseases with a focus on pragmatic prevention and control of hypertension in order to decrease the burden of the disease in the region.