Life & Living National

‘People living close to oil exploration sites prone to kidney disorders’

Dr Ralph Onyemekeiha, a nephrologist at the Central Hospital, Warri, in Delta, says people living close to oil explorations are prone to kidney disorders.

Onyemekeiha made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

He said that there were documents to show that gas flaring and other hydrocarbon emissions contribute to kidney and other health problems.

The expert maintained that at least three or four of every 10 patients admitted in hospital, had kidney problems.

‘‘I took my team to a community which I won’t mention its name for political reasons, to ascertain the impact of gas flaring and oil explorations on the people living around there.

‘What we saw in the urine of the people was shocking; somehow, if you present it to the oil companies, it will look as if you want to disturb their business.

‘‘When we were training as medical doctors, we hardly saw or heard of kidney failure; it is now very common.

‘‘In every 10 people that are sick and admitted in hospital, at least three or four are kidney patients; it is worrisome.

‘‘So, in communities where oil explorations take place, we have a lot of kidney issues; most of my patients are from those communities.

‘‘Overall, I can authoritatively tell you as an expert that many of the diagnosed kidney diseases occur in the Niger Delta region than any other regions in the country.’’

Onyemekeiha identified the commonest causes of kidney failure as hypertension, diabetes and drug abuse, among others.

According to him, deformity among children occurs in an environment where gas is flared as pregnant women inhale the gas or drink of the acid rain water caused by oil explorations.

‘You cannot flare gas and say you want to reduce kidney problems,’’ he said.

The nephrologist urged people to be mindful of the kind of water they drink and maintain proper hygiene.

He also advised oil companies to seek alternative means of evacuating waste products in their crude oil, in view of its enormous health challenges.

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