World Kidney Day (WKD) is a worldwide campaign in order to raise awareness of the importance of the kidneys and their function. The awareness event, which in 2022 takes place on March 10, focuses on preventive behaviors, awareness about risk factors as well as awareness about how to deal and live with a kidney disease.
World Kidney Day is a joint initiative of the International Society of Nephrology (ISN) and the International Federation of Kidney Foundations (IFKF). We spoke with Alice Poidevin, Campaign and Projects Officer at worldkidneyday.org.
The motto of World Kidney Day 2022 is “Kidney Health for All – Bridge the Knowledge Gap to Better Kidney Care”. What exactly is this knowledge gap and what can be done to bridge it?
A persistent and ongoing chronic kidney disease (CKD) knowledge gap exists, one that is demonstrable at all levels of healthcare:
- The community: Obstacles to better kidney health understanding include the complex nature of kidney disease information, low baseline awareness, limited health literacy, limited availability of CKD information, and lack of readiness to learn.
- The healthcare worker: Another barrier to overcome in order to ensure greater awareness is a more focused education of physicians, as they are in charge of the patients’ medical condition.
- Patients: Another challenge is the lack of patient participation, engagement, and education regarding their own health measures and care, which reflects the health literacy deficit seen among patients.
- The public health policy makers: Finally, CKD is a global, public health threat but is typically low on government health agendas with political commitments on non-communicable disease programs concentrating predominantly on five main diseases – heart disease, stroke, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes.
This knowledge gap is stifling the fight against kidney disease, and increasing the inherent associated mortality.
In 2022, the WKD Joint Steering Committee calls for everyone worldwide to not only be aware of the disease, but to actively know what their own kidney health measures are. For example, what their blood pressure is and what the treatment objectives are. It is a cause that involves all of us in the kidney community worldwide — physicians, scientists, nurses and other health care providers, patients, administrators, health policy experts, government officials, nephrology organizations, and foundations. All need to be aware of the ways in which more attention to the kidney in the setting of government policies can lead to major benefits for both patients and health care budgets.
For more information on the 2022 World Kidney Day theme, read more here.
Why are kidney diseases labelled as “silent killers”? Who is most at risk of a kidney disease?
Generally, kidney disease starts slowly and silently, and progresses over several years. A person can lose up to 90% of their kidney functions before experiencing any symptoms. Signs of advancing CKD include swollen ankles, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, decreased appetite, blood in the urine and foamy urine.
We are not all equal with regard to kidney disease and access to treatment. Kidney disease is common, about 1 in 10 people have some degree of CKD.
Some communities in both higher and lower income countries are at greater risk than others because of their ethnic origin, socioeconomic status and/or where they live. This has major public health implications because of the terrible impact of kidney failure and the extremely high cost of renal replacement therapy. African, American Indian, Hispanic, Asian and Aboriginal populations are known to suffer from higher rates of diabetes and high blood pressure, which are leading causes of CKD. These populations are therefore at higher risk of developing severe kidney disease and ultimately kidney failure.
What can be done to prevent and/or detect kidney diseases as early as possible?
The majority of individuals with early stages of CKD go undiagnosed. On World Kidney Day, we are calling on everyone to check if they are at risk for kidney disease and encourage those with any risk factors to take a simple kidney function test.
The early detection of failing kidney function is crucial because it allows suitable treatment before kidney damage or deterioration manifests itself through other complications.
Kidney diseases are silent killers, which can greatly affect your quality of life. There are, however, several easy ways to reduce the risk of developing kidney disease. Following the 8 Golden Rules may help you prevent kidney disease.
Which treatment options are the most effective against kidney diseases and kidney failure?
There is no cure for CKD, although treatment can slow or halt the progression of the disease and can prevent other serious conditions developing.
The main treatments are a proper diet and medications, and for those who reach end-stage kidney disease (ESKD), long-term dialysis treatment or kidney transplantation. In the early stages of kidney disease, a proper diet and medications may help to maintain the critical balance in the body that your kidneys would normally control. However, when you have kidney failure, wastes and fluids accumulate in your body and you need dialysis treatments to remove these wastes and excess fluid from your blood. Dialysis can be done either by machine (hemodialysis) or by using fluid in your abdomen (peritoneal dialysis). In suitable patients a kidney transplant combined with medications and a healthy diet can restore normal kidney function. Dialysis and kidney transplantation are known as renal replacement therapies (RRT) because they attempt to “replace” the normal functioning of the kidneys.
Find out more about RRT here.
World Kidney Day is a joint initiative of the International Society of Nephrology (ISN) and the International Federation of Kidney Foundations (IFKF). What are your plans for this year’s awareness day?
To mark World Kidney Day 2022, we are encouraging people across the globe to conduct their own awareness raising activities either online or in-person, depending on their local public health guidance.
We recommend people to also use social media to spread the word about their activity and mention #WorldKidneyDay or tag @worldkidneyday in their post to follow the progress of the campaign and for us, to share their WKD content with a wider audience. We encourage people to also participate in the #ShowYourKidneys campaign to remind everyone of the primary function of their kidneys and their location in their bodies. On 10 March 2022, the WKD team will share photos and social media posts to drive one’s activity and engagement on social media.
Resources and materials, such as the social media toolkit, the activities guide and WKD 2022 visuals, can be found on the World Kidney Day website. Those will help organizers to find inspiration for their social media campaign or activity to raise awareness about kidney disease!
Many thanks for your time and for the interview.