As Chief Medical Officer at Diaverum, it is my honour and privilege to be Diaverum’s spokesperson on World Kidney Day, a key date in the renal care diary that grows in importance with every passing year, by mobilising society to fight the life-time burden of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD).

World Kidney Day was launched in 2007, as a direct response to a deeply felt need to bring global attention to the increasingly wide-spread global pandemic of kidney and associated diseases. Seventeen years on, the need to speak up and speak clearly about kidney disease is as prevalent as ever.

A staggering 850 million people worldwide, or over 10% of the global population, are estimated to be affected by CKD, many of whom go undiagnosed until they reach an advanced stage of the disease. What’s more, CKD is projected to be the fifth leading cause of years of life lost by 2040. With our organisation present in 24 countries worldwide, I have borne witness to the advancement of this disease on a global scale.

Recent therapeutic advancements – such as renin-angiotensin inhibitors and SGLT2 inhibitors - offer hope in delaying CKD progression, particularly in regards to cardiovascular disease and kidney failure. Nonetheless, the stark disparities in access to treatment, shortages in kidney specialists, organ donation & transplantation, CKD awareness and treatments costs remain major problems especially felt in low and middle-income countries, a situation which has been further exacerbated by socioeconomic events of the past few years. As we commemorate WKD 2024, it is now more critical than ever to address the escalating challenge of advancing equitable access to kidney care to all, this year’s campaign theme.

Our True care culture at Diaverum manifests itself in the way we approach patient care - whether advocating for equitable access to cutting-edge therapies, innovative digital solutions, health literacy, or offering a multidisciplinary, integrated care approach to our patients, wherever they are based in the world. This also includes an unwavering commitment to increasing access to kidney transplantation, a critical treatment modality for end-stage renal disease patients that can significantly improve their quality of life, well-being and longevity.

For this reason, on this year’s WKD, we also need to shed light on the importance of advancing access to kidney transplantation. At Diaverum, our focus on empowering patients to live fulfilling lives means we consider access to transplantation a quality indicator of our patient-centric CKD 5 care, and we are absolutely committed to ensuring as many of our eligible patients are added to transplantation lists as possible.

Unlike other treatments that manage symptoms or slow disease progression, transplantation offers the possibility of restoring kidney function to near-normal levels, offering eligible patients the opportunity to reclaim their lives from the constraints that come with living with CKD – transplanted patients have considerably less restrictions regarding work, travel, diet and exercising, for example. But for transplantation to be a feasible option, for as many as possible, there is an urgent need to increase organ donation rates worldwide; this can happen through public awareness, implementing policy reforms, and fostering supportive environments to facilitate organ donation and transplantation processes.

At Diaverum, we are investing heavily in assessing current levels of awareness and health literacy on kidney transplantation, both among our staff and patient population, via a wide range of activities, from staff surveys to health literacy materials shared with CKD communities. To coordinate this work, leading and inspiring us in this journey, we also appointed in 2023 our first-ever Transplantation Ambassador, Dr Domingos Machado, nephrologist, who best personifies our company ethos.

Dr Machado's commitment to advancing transplantation, exemplified by his decision to become a non-directed kidney donor – possible the first nephrologist in the world to do so – reinforces the importance of organ donation and is intrinsically connected with our mission to improve the lives of CKD patients worldwide. You can learn more about his story in the video below:

I have had the privilege to work with Domingos for many years, most recently here at Diaverum, but also over the course of more than two decades, extending beyond individual initiatives to encompass broader civic engagements, such as implementing EU directives into Portuguese law to enhance organ transplantation practices.

On World Kidney Day 2024, together with Dr Machado, we are uniting under a shared vision, to bring kidney transplantation high in the agenda – for healthcare professionals, patients, national health systems, policy makers, and society as a whole. We hope to inspire people, via Dr Machado’s example, to stand up to the cause, making a tangible difference in advancing access to kidney transplantation - and hopefully, see more voluntary living donors coming forward.

Dr Fernando Macário
Chief Medical Officer, Diaverum