One in seven people suffer from chronic kidney disease (CKD) in Pakistan, observed Dr Junaid Iqbal, consultant nephrologist associated with the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre (SKMCH&RC), at a session held to commemorate World Kidney Day.
Annually observed on the second Thursday of March, the day is being marked this year on March 12. The theme for the current year is ‘Prevention of kidney diseases’.
Chronic Kidney Disease in Pakistan
According to Dr Iqbal, one in 10 adults has a chronic kidney condition in the country, an official statement said. The global health expenditure was burdened with CKD related expenses, he added. “The cost of dialysis and transplantation consumes around 2% to 3% of the annual healthcare budget in high-income countries. This is spent on less than 0.03% of the total population of these countries.”
He also said that in low-income and middle-income countries, most people with kidney failures have insufficient access to life-saving dialysis and kidney transplantation.” Talking about preventive measures, Dr Iqbal pointed out that, “Kidney diseases can be prevented, and progression to the end-stage can be delayed with appropriate access to basic diagnostics and early treatment.
“In developing countries like Pakistan, policies directed specifically towards education and awareness about kidney diseases as well as CKD screening, management and treatment are often lacking. There is a need to increase awareness about the importance of preventive measures throughout populations, professionals and policymakers.”
He claimed that the medical staff at the Shaukat Khanum Hospital ensures that all patients are appropriately screened for kidney diseases and are provided appropriate education regarding treatment and follow up. “People with acute or chronic kidney problems are reviewed and followed up by the nephrology team.”
Dr Iqbal added that primary prevention of kidney diseases, specifically require modification of risk factors, including diabetes mellitus and hypertension, unhealthy diets, structural abnormalities of the kidney and urinary tracts, and/or nephrotoxicity levels.
Moreover, CKD is found to be common in women in Pakistan due to complications related to pregnancy and labour. Poor healthcare facilities and care for pregnant women can lead to the development of chronic kidney disease. Provision of timely care to and identification of those at high risk of developing such a condition is essential.
“Preventative primary interventions include promoting a healthy lifestyle that includes physical activity and healthy diets, screening high-risk patients with the aid of urine and blood tests and storing the screening data in a CKD registry,” Dr Iqbal said.
While concluding his talk, the nephrologist observed that the 2020 World Kidney Day calls on everyone to advocate for concrete measures to be taken in every country to promote and advance kidney disease prevention. “These measures must include a renewed focus on primary care, raising awareness and education including patient empowerment and cross-speciality training.”
Some other measures that Dr Iqbal identified were integrating CKD prevention into national healthcare programmes for the provision of comprehensive and integrated services essential for improving early detection and tracking of CKD at the national level. He also suggested involving the government and the society at large in all health policies and seeking multisector collaborations to promote the prevention of kidney disease.
World Kidney Day is marked every year to raise awareness about kidney diseases, their prevention and emerging new treatments to improve kidney health.
According to the World Kidney Day’s website: “This year, the day continues to raise awareness of the increasing burden of kidney diseases worldwide. and to strive for kidney health for everyone, everywhere. Specifically, the 2020 campaign highlights the importance of preventive interventions to avert the onset and progression of kidney disease.”