Authorities of the Central Regional hospital have disclosed that there is an obvious link between illegal mining popularly known as galamsey and kidney failure.
Medical personnel at the regional hospital came to this conclusion after they noticed an unusual increase in the cases of the disease in surrounding mining communities such as Tarkwa.
Speaking during the visit of the Health Minister to the hospital on Monday, the Chief Executive of the Central Regional Hospital, Dr. Daniel Asare revealed that most of the patients who are rushed to the hospital for kidney dialysis have been linked to illegal mining. According to him, as many as 65 of such persons are currently on kidney dialysis.
According to him, as many as 65 of such persons are currently on kidney dialysis.
“It is pathetic…65 of them are on dialysis,” Dr. Asare disclosed.
Speaking further, the Central Regional Hospital CEO said kidney dialysis costs a whopping ¢190 per week. This he said, implies that someone placed on dialysis for the rest of his life would eventually end up in abject poverty as he would be forced to sell off all he has in order to foot the bills.
The link between galamsey and kidney failure was made known following the discovery of the adverse effects of mercury exposure renal health.
A large epidemiological study by U.S. Centers for Disease Control, revealed that mercury is nephrotoxic (toxic to kidneys), with exposure to the substance having adverse effect on kidney function.
The chemical is also known to cause permanent kidney damage if not properly handled.
Meanwhile, mercury is often used by small scale miners for gold attraction. They normally mix liquid mercury with raw ore or other crude gold sources in order to attract the gold in the mixture.
They will subsequently hold the gold-mercury mixture over the fire to burn off the mercury and extract the gold.
Galamsey and kidney failure linked due to mercury exposure
These artisanal miners, most of whom are not well acquainted with the health hazards associated with mercury exposure handle the substance without precautions.
Moreover, the Minerals Commission are not helping matters as their lack of proper regulation make it possible for unlicensed miners to to have easy access to the substance. A report by Ghanabusinessnews revealed that mercury which is supposed to be acquired on licence, was found on sale in 10 shops in Tarkwa.
Another report from Human Rights Watch also lends credence to the inefficiency of the Minerals Commission in regulating the use of mercury and other controlled minerals.
The HRW reporter revealed that he personally observed unlicensed miners, including children freely handling mercury in the course of their operation, not knowing the health risks associated with what they were doing.
Kidney Dialysis is a treatment normally given to patients of kidney failure. It is the act of taking over the functions of the kidneys with the use of a medical equipment in conditions where the organs stop doing their work. A dialysis is usually used to sustain a kidney patient either temporarily or permanently.
In the absence of recovery or kidney transplant, the patient is placed under dialysis for the rest of his life; and that’s awful financial-wise!