Professor Robyn Langham
ISN Co-Chair World Kidney Day Nephrologist, Professor of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC, Australia
Professor Kam Kalantar
IFKF Co-Chair WORLD Kidney Day Nephrologist, Professor of Medicine, University of California, Irvine, CA, USA
Recent studies highlight the staggering prevalence of kidney diseases worldwide, with over 860 million people affected.
Kidney diseases are some of the most common conditions in the world. The number of people affected globally is even more profound and impactful when we appreciate the complexities of conditions that accompany kidney diseases, including high blood pressure, heart disease, a broad symptom burden and often reduced mental health.
Tackling misconceptions of kidney disease
Despite the magnitude of the burden of chronic kidney diseases (CKD), with over 11% of the population affected, and with the well documented effect on health outcomes, sadly, the awareness of kidney diseases within the community remains low.
Indeed, myths and misconceptions more commonly form the basis for the understanding of kidney disease in the community. At the heart of the misunderstandings is the overall complexity of kidney diseases, covering a wide spectrum of diseases with diverse aetiologies, clinical courses and functional severity.
Importantly, not everyone with kidney disease has kidney failure and will need dialysis. In the early stages of kidney disease, it is possible to manage with a mix of medication, diet and exercise. With this approach, most people can slow or stop the progression of kidney disease and enjoy a normal lifestyle.
It is imperative to detect kidney disease early and to provide treatment before it gets worse. It is only at the extremes of kidney failure that patients need dialysis or a kidney transplant.
With over 11% of the population affected, and with the well documented effect on health outcomes, sadly, the awareness of kidney diseases within the community remains low.
World Kidney Day – advocacy and action
World Kidney Day is the culmination of a year-round global campaign that is celebrated each year on the second Thursday of March. It is a joint initiative of the International Federation of Kidney Foundations, World Kidney Alliance and the International Society of Nephrology.
The day aims to raise awareness of the importance of kidneys in maintaining overall health and the effects of kidney disease on patients, their families and the whole community.
Addressing the impact on patients’ lives
Each year, a different aspect of kidney disease is developed as a theme of World Kidney Day. In 2021, the campaign theme is ‘living well with kidney disease’.
There is a strengths-based approach for those affected and a focus on the way in which CKD and associated illnesses interfere with patients’ lives, with healthcare teams providing care not only to slow CKD progression, but also supporting patients and their families through the psychosocial issues of illness.
An educational message is also used to empower and engage patients in their own care, supporting resilience and redressing the mainly negative misconceptions about kidney disease at a community level.