Kidney disease hits 850 million people
Author: Mark Gould
Despite the fact that one in 10 people, an estimated 850 million worldwide, have chronic kidney disease (CKD), treatment and prevention initiatives are far from adequate in rich countries, and often near non-existent in developing countries, according to experts raising the profile of the condition.
To mark World Kidney Day today, advocates led by the International Society of Nephrology (ISN) and the International Federation of Kidney Foundations (IFKF) are raising awareness of the "serious and disabling silent epidemic".
The disease kills an estimated 1.2 million people each year, while acute kidney injury (AKI) is thought to cause a further 1.7 million deaths.
In some high-income countries, studies have shown levels of the disease to be much higher than this global average. One in four people in Belgium and Saudi Arabia have kidney disease while in Poland, Germany, and the UK, it is around one in six.
Yet the authors say low levels of awareness and failure to adequately screen people at risk is a problem common to all countries.
Latest estimates from the Global Burden of Disease Studies (2017) show the disease as the 12th leading cause of death worldwide, ahead of tuberculosis (13th), HIV (14th) and malaria (21st). It was also the 6th fastest growing cause of death between 1990 and 2017.
The theme for World Kidney Day 2019 is “Kidney Health for Everyone Everywhere” and is about encouraging countries to invest in health care to help treat the millions affected. In countries with adequate access to health care, more must be done to substantially increase diagnosis and treatment.
“We want to make screening for kidney diseases a primary healthcare intervention including access to diagnostics such as urine and blood tests,” says Professor Philip Kam Tao Li, co-chairman of WKD Joint Steering Committee for ISN, based at Prince of Wales Hospital, Chinese University of Hong Kong.
“Screening of high-risk individuals and early diagnosis and treatment is cost-effective to prevent or delay end-stage kidney diseases requiring dialysis or transplantation.
“However, where these services are needed, countries must have transparent policies governing equitable and sustainable access,” adds Professor Guillermo Garcia, co-chairman of WKD Joint Steering Committee for IFKF, based at University of Guadalajara Health Sciences Centre, Mexico.
Professor Li, says: “We are also advocating to ensure kidney patients receive basic health services they need such as blood pressure and cholesterol control and other essential medications to delay CKD disease progression without suffering financial hardship.”
One third of the global population is at increased risk of CKD because they have one or more of the risk factors associated with the condition. These include high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, smoking, being aged 60 years or over, having established cardiovascular disease, having a family history of kidney failure, being from a high-risk ethnic group or having a history of AKI. Infections, dehydration or damage from medications or ingesting toxic drugs are all causes of AKI.