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Organ Harvesting/ Kidney Failure: Obasanjo Advocate A Legislation For Victim Support

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Following the surge in cases of kidney failure in the sub-saharan Africa which its major cause is yet to be identified, former President Olusegun Obasanjo has advocated for the National Assembly to enact a legislative that will support people with kidney disease and enact laws on the emerging organ harvesting and trafficking in Nigeria. Obasanjo was speaking yesterday during the 36th Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Scientific Conference of the National Association of Nephrology with the theme: “Optimising Dialysis Therapy To Prolong Survival”, at the main auditorium of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) in Abeokuta, Ogun State. 

The former Nigerian leader highlighted four key areas to be looked into to address the burden and challenges in the management of kidney disease, even as he noted that several strategies could be followed at the same time. 

According to him, “From available reports, one out of seven, that is about 15 per cent of adult Nigerians, has kidney failure which cannot be reversed and is life-threatening if left untreated. 

He explained, “I have also been informed that the prevalence of kidney failure in Africa is higher than anywhere else in the world, as an average African is four times more likely to develop kidney problems than a Caucasian or Mediterranean race.” 

Highlighting the major causes of the kidney failure in Nigeria, Obasanjo said, “hypertension, diabetes, kidney infections, genetics, habitual consumption of undefined herbal medications, and analgesic abuse. The burden of chronic kidney disease is further exacerbated by the high prevalence of these risk factors. Late presentation is also a problem which further leads to increased morbidity and mortality.” 

Obasanjo insisted that treatment must start with prevention and healthy lifestyles, while “in severe cases, apart from drugs, intervention by way of machine treatment (dialysis) or outright replacement (transplantation) are the way out.” 

“We also need to invest in local production of dialysis consumables to bring down the cost of dialysis care.

Supporting dialysis and transplantation services for children not only improves health outcomes, but also reduces the need for Nigerians to seek these services abroad, saving foreign exchange. It fosters trust in the government, encourages local production of medications and dialysis materials, creates employment and enhances the country’s visibility in international healthcare organisations. Ultimately, strengthened policies can prevent unnecessary deaths, improve healthcare access and boost the nation’s healthcare infrastructure. 

He therefore called on the legislative arm of the government considering the endemic poverty in the country should consider a law that will give such persons hope in the country. 

Meanwhile, he advocated that stiffer laws for traffickers should be a thing of a concern saying, “organ trafficking is an emerging issue in our environment, and I want to plead with agencies concerned to help in examining relevant laws, especially with regards to cadaveric donations, taking cognizance of our peculiar cultural and societal idiosyncrasies, and also laws guiding organs to be harvested from living donors.”