‘Kidney health for all’ must be more than a campaign slogan
In many regions of the globe, there is still none, or only limited, access to renal care and to renal replacement therapies. This situation has only got worse in recent years, with the significant impact of world disastrous events - such as the global pandemic and war in Ukraine - on chronic and non-communicable diseases like Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD).
That is the sad reality today – millions of vulnerable people all over the world do not have access to minimal standards of care, especially when unexpected crises strike. In many countries, renal care dialysis is available to only a very few. Even so, with uneven standards, on an irregular basis and with poor access to fundamental medications to treat essential comorbidities including anaemia, CKD-related bone mineral disease.
So how can we make a step-change and promote true kidney health for all?
As renal care medical and nursing professionals, we are responsible for raising awareness of this unequal access to primary renal care among our stakeholders. International health organisations have the same duty to lobby, and renal care providers must work with health authorities to find solutions of value that will ensure minimal standards of care for these forgotten populations.
When it comes to highly specialised health professionals, beyond the need for compassion and dedication, there is a need to ensure the most accurate diagnoses and to promote public health education about critical health issues. We need to understand patient needs and perception of care to arrive at a well-structured care plan. This can only be achieved with a multidisciplinary and integrated care approach.
Innovative and patient-centric digital solutions, supported by basic facilities and local staff, can not only aid the physicians’ ability to diagnose accurately, but also connect renal professionals and patients in remote areas bringing expertise where we cannot dream of having specialised care in the near future.
Families and caregivers must be involved in promoting patient health literacy, taking into account psychological and social realities. This promote empowerment and shared-decision-making where the patients themselves can help steer their treatment, improving the efficiency of medical interventions.
Only by addressing all of these multiple aspects of chronic kidney disease can we achieve the ultimate goal for the CKD patient – to live a good and long life without renal replacement therapy (RRT). At Diaverum, that’s our mission – to provide renal care patients around with world with life-enhancing renal care, because everyone deserves a fulfilling life.
While we wait for a miracle drug to treat kidney diseases, we still have to live with the increased numbers of people needing RRT. People with CKD still face the anxiety of one-day starting dialysis or receiving a renal transplant or, even more probably, the chance of a severe or fatal cardiovascular event. When we consider the global picture, we must recognise that starting RRT is still only for those lucky enough to have access to renal care.
This all means that making a step-change widening access to treatment for CKD is a social duty that care providers, health professionals, health authorities and politicians must take on, collectively. More than a slogan, kidney care for all means concreate actions that are known to us - investing in prevention and providing adequate care in all regions of the globe.
Dr Fernando Macário
Chief Medical Officer