Maldives sees sharp rise in kidney disease among youth

A patient receives dialysis.

Maldives is seeing a sharp rise in kidney disease, especially among the youth, according to the country’s main state hospital.

Indhira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) has launched an awareness campaign in the run-up to World Kidney Day, on March 14.

In an appearance on state broadcaster TVM’s ‘Hendhunu Hendhuna’ show on Thursday morning, Aminath Fatheena, a senior resident nurse at IGMH, said Maldives has experienced a sharp increase in kidney disease over the last decade.

She said this includes a sharp increase in patients who are at the last stage of kidney disease, and require dialysis.

Aminath Fatheena, a senior resident nurse at IGMH.

“And the age of patients who require dialysis has dropped, meaning there have been a lot of patients aged between 10-40 years over the last decade,” said Fatheena, who works in the hospital’s dialysis unit.

“This means that kidney disease has increased among our youth.”

Explaining the reason for this, Dr. Aminath Mizna, a medical officer at IGMH, said the main cause for this is sedentary lifestyles, or a significant lack of physical activity.

Mizna said that sedentary lifestyles were resulting in an increase in medical issues such as high blood pressure and diabetes, which in turn is increasing the risk for kidney disease.

“An uncontrolled [high] blood pressure in the long term and uncontrolled diabetes in the long term, as well as obesity, all increase the risk for diseases. This affects the kidney. It reaches the point where kidneys fail and you need dialysis,” she said.

Mizna said that many people suffer depression after they are diagnosed with kidney disease and think it’s the end of their life. She stressed that there are stages in kidney disease, and that early diagnosis and intervention can prevent kidney failure.

Dr. Aminath Mizna, a medical officer at IGMH.

She added that even patients on dialysis can lead a quality life.

Mizna urged people to take preventive measures against kidney disease, including regular exercise and a balanced diet. She said that it is important to maintain a healthy body weight.

Maldives launched dialysis in 2002. At present, the service is provided in 14 medical facilities, including IGMH.

Fatheena said that IGMH has 20 dialysis beds, but that an overflow of patients is making it hard for them to cater to the patients.

“We are facing an overflow [of patients]. Our dialysis patients have increase that much,” she said.

“We are running the dialysis in four shifts. And it's still full.”