Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is common and harmful: 1 out of 10 people worldwide have it, and if left untreated it can be deadly. While early detection allows for disease care and management to help prevent morbidity and mortality, and improve cost-effectiveness and sustainability, kidney disease-related mortality continues to increase yearly and is projected to be the 5th leading cause of death by 2040. A persistent and ongoing CKD knowledge gap exists, one that is demonstrable at all levels of healthcare;
- The community – Obstacles to better kidney health understanding include the complex nature of kidney disease information, low baseline awareness, limited health literacy, limited availability of CKD information, and lack of readiness to learn.
- The healthcare worker – Another barrier to overcome in order to ensure greater awareness is a more focused education of physicians, as they are in charge of the patients’ medical condition.
- The public health policy makers – Finally, CKD is a global, public health threat but is typically low on government health agendas with political commitments on non-communicable disease programs concentrating predominantly on four main diseases – cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease.
This knowledge gap is stifling the fight against kidney disease and increasing the inherently associated mortality.
The WKD Joint Steering Committee calls for everyone worldwide to not only be aware of the disease but to actively know what their own kidney health measures are. For example, what their blood pressure is and what the treatment objectives are. It is a cause that involves all of us in the kidney community worldwide — physicians, scientists, nurses and other healthcare providers, patients, administrators, health-policy experts, government officials, nephrology organizations, and foundations. All need to be aware of the ways in which more attention to the kidney in the setting of government policies can lead to major benefits both to patients and to health-care budgets
- Encourage general public to adopt healthy diet and lifestyles (access to clean water, exercise, healthy diet, tobacco control, and climate change prevention) to maintain good kidney health, preserve kidney function longer in those with CKD, and increase overall general awareness of the importance of kidneys
- Extend kidney patient education (including practical advice on diet and lifestyle) to empower patients, their care-partners, and their support systems to achieve the health outcomes and life goals that are meaningful and important to those with CKD including kidney failure.
- Recognise patients’ and caregivers’ right to be able to assess, understand and use health information related to CKD
- Require kidney healthcare providers and patient organisations to offer information related to CKD according to varying levels of health literacy.
- Encourage and support primary care physicians to improve their recognition and management of patients with CKD across its entire spectrum from prevention and early detection of CKD to its secondary and tertiary prevention and kidney failure care
- Integrate CKD and kidney failure prevention into national non-communicable disease programs for comprehensive and integrated services, which are essential in improving the early detection and tracking of kidney care at country level
- Inform politicians about the impact of kidney disease and kidney failure on their constituents’ health and its associated burden on healthcare budgets/systems to encourage the adoption of policies and allocation of resources which tackle the global burden of kidney disease and ensure living well with kidney disease
Article contributed by Dr. Vernekar Ritesh (MD., DM (Nephrology) is an associate professor & senior Nephrologist, transplant physician at KLE’s Dr.Prabhakar Kore hospital Belagavi & has done more than 20 transplants in KLE hospital Belagavi.