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Health expert warns chronic kidney disease worsening



Staff Reporter

At least one in 13 South African adults has chronic kidney disease (CKD) and about 250 people around the world die from complications related to kidney disease every day, a health expert has said.

According to the head of the Nephrology Clinical Unit in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of the Free State (UFS), Dr Feziwe Busiswa Bisiwe, kidney disease-associated mortality is on the rise around the world and people of African descent have a higher risk of developing kidney disease due to genetic predisposition and other factors.

“Some forms of kidney disease are inherited and tend to run in families,” she said in a statement issued by the UFS to mark World Kidney Day, celebrated on March 10 every year.

Bisiwe said the number of people dying from CKD is rising because the prevalence of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension and obesity is increasing.

She said Africans living in sub-Saharan Africa also have an increased disease burden associated with infections such as HIV, TB and malaria, which also increase the risk of developing kidney disease.

“Hypertension, diabetes mellitus, obesity, kidney stones, recurrent bladder infections, HIV infection, being over the age of 50, smoking, excess consumption of alcohol and medications that harm the kidneys are the commonest known risk factors for developing kidney disease,” Bisiwe explained.

All adults, she said, are at risk of getting CKD and need to be screened at least once a year.

The screening can be done at primary health-care centres by simply measuring the blood pressure, doing a urine test and a single blood test where needed.

All adults are advised to have annual medical check-ups for early diagnosis of diseases leading to CKD, such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus and HIV infection.

Bisiwe said there is limited awareness about kidney disease around the world, and that is why the initiative of this campaign is to “bridge the knowledge gap”.

Early forms of CKD may be treated with lifestyle and dietary adjustments that slow down the progression of kidney disease.

“Kidney transplant is the most cost-effective way to treat kidney failure – however, there is limited access to this treatment due to a shortage of donated organs,” she said.

“Dialysis treatment is another blood-purifying method that performs some of the functions of the kidney to keep the patient alive.

“Dialysis is expensive and is not widely available in the South African state-funded health-care system, hence more emphasis is placed on prevention, early detection and delaying the progression of kidney disease.”

World Kidney Day is a global campaign aimed at raising awareness of the importance of kidneys and how to take care of them through healthy living. 

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Parts of Free State may not have power for up to three weeks



PROLONGED BLACKOUT LOOMS . . . Eskom says consumers in some parts of the Free State may not have electricity for up to three weeks

Eskom has warned consumers in the south-eastern Free State that they may not have electricity for up to three weeks due to voltage constraints on the network feeding the Melkspruit Substation.

The power failure resulted in electricity users in Zastron, Rouxville and Smithfield as well as those fed directly by Eskom on the RVZ and RVS 22 kV lines experiencing outages over the past weekend.

Eskom’s spokesperson in the Free State, Stefanie Jansen van Rensburg, said the problem may persist until major work on a line from the Northern Cape is completed.

“The voltage constraint on the network will persist until construction of structures on the Ruigtevallei-Valleydora 132 kV line in the Northern Cape is completed,” said Van Rensburg as she urged consumers to remain patient while the supply challenge is addressed.

“Free State teams are currently assisting to speed up the process. It is however expected that work will take two to three weeks to complete.”

“In the meantime, electricity users are urged to use electricity sparingly, especially during the morning and evening peak hours, to prevent trips,” she added.

South Africa has been experiencing rolling blackouts in recent weeks due to what Eskom has described a “continued shortage of generation capacity”.

On Sunday, the national power utility said in a separate statement it had about 3 028 megawatts on planned maintenance, while another 14 992 megawatts of capacity were unavailable due to breakdowns.

While the loadshedding is meant to ease pressure on the national grid and avoid a total collapse of the system, the practice has reportedly caused damage on some lines when power is switched back on.

Eskom has always said loadshedding is implemented only as a last resort to protect the national grid and promised to limit the implementation of loadshedding to the evening peak in order to limit the impact of the capacity shortages on the public. – Staff Reporter

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Minister shuts down troubled Free State water supplier



MOVE GAZETTED . . . Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu has disestablished Sedibeng Water

Staff and key assets from the embattled Sedibeng Water Board are set to be transferred to the Bloemwater and Magalies water boards following the gazetting of the move by Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu last week.

The department’s spokesperson, Sputnik Ratau, said in a statement the development is in line with the minister’s commitment to review the country’s water boards to enable them to perform optimally while enhancing the delivery of water to municipalities and ultimately to households.

The decision to disestablish Sedibeng Water – which served Matjhabeng, Masilonyana and Nala local municipalities, among others – means its staff, assets and liabilities will be absorbed by Bloemwater in the Free State and Magalies in Gauteng.

The move, according to Ratau, was initiated by the minister following his working sessions with provincial governments, various water services authorities and water boards regarding issues of governance, financial viability as well as accountability and broader service delivery issues after taking office in August last year.

“The review is based on considerations of financial sustainability, servicing areas that are not currently serviced and is also intended to address institutional confusion caused by having multiple water boards serving the same area,” said Ratau.

“The disestablishment of Sedibeng Water is in accordance with section 28 of the Water Services Act of 1997 which affords Minister Mchunu the authority to disestablish a water board.

“The gazette was published on Friday, 20 May 2022 and will remain open to the public for a period of 40 days.

“Members of the public and all interested parties are invited to make comments in writing on the disestablishment of the board.”

The department said it will ensure there is smooth transition of the disestablishment and that water service provision to communities is not affected.

Based in Bothaville, Sedibeng Water was established to, among others, treat wastewater and supply potable water in a viabile and sustainable manner.

However, in recent years, some of the municipalities served by the water board have struggled over the years to pay on time for the bulk water supplies even though residents have argued that they pay their monthly bills on time.

At the end of March this year, Sedibeng reportedly owed its service providers over R5-billion as it was struggling to secure payment from several municipalities. – Staff Reporter

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Mangaung warns residents to brace for heavy rainfall



DISRUPTIVE DOWNPOUR LOOMING . . . Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality has warned heavy rainfall is expected to pound the capital

The Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality has warned residents in and around the Free State capital to brace for heavy rainfall that could cause flooding this Friday.

The municipality is urging drivers to take extra caution by reducing speed and switching their headlights on, while pedestrians are being reminded to be careful when crossing the road and to avoid crossing rivers and streams where water is above the ankles.

“Residents of Mangaung Metro, particularly in the former Naledi region, are urged to be cautious on the road and in their homes as the South African Weather Service has issued an impact-based warning . . . for possible disruptive rainfall,” the metro said in a statement.

“This warning is valid for Friday, 20 May 2022 until Saturday, 21 May 2022.”

“Heavy rains are also predicted in Bloemfontein on Friday,” it added.

“Localised flooding can be expected in susceptible low-lying areas, roads, formal/informal settlements and bridges.” – Staff Reporter

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