World Health Day is a worldwide campaign by WHO aimed at increasing awareness of health amongst the general public and is celebrated on 7th April. As a kidney specialist it is my duty to educate the general public about the role of kidneys in maintaining optimal health and also about various aspects of kidney diseases.
The aim is to create awareness about risk factors for kidney disease, preventive behaviors and increasing knowledge about how to live with a kidney disease.
The prevalence of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is increasing and currently it is believed that 15-20 out of every 100 people have some stage of CKD. It is also now emerging as the 5th leading cause of death worldwide. Unlike heart disease and cancer the prevalence of CKD is increasing. Kidney disease is a silent killer and unlike heart disease and cancer the symptoms often come very late. Data from the registry of Indian Society of Nephrology has shown that majority of the patients are coming to the nephrologists in stage 4 and stage 5 CKD. The registry also shows that Diabetes and Hypertension are the leading causes of CKD. Both of these are lifestyle diseases and are preventable.
Recent studies have shown that a persistent and ongoing CKD knowledge gap exists, one that is demonstrable at all levels of healthcare : amongst primary care physicians, nurses, dialysis technicians, the public as well as the policy makers.
This has been compounded by the unbridled proliferation of social media platforms like Facebook , YouTube, Instagram and Twitter. The COVID pandemic resulting in lockdowns has further acclerated the growth of the social media. The commercial nature of these platforms often results in widespread proliferation of content that is not proven to be true by scientific methodology. The only measure of success in social media is the popularity of the post and the number of followers both of which can be manipulated by commercial tools like boosting. A lot of this information would not hold water if tested by standard scientific methodology. The poorly informed public and patients find it challenging to access scientifically authentic and validated information. This is especially true for developing countries like India where there is a proliferation of quacks and untested therapies and regulatory mechanism are lax. A significant number of them often land up in the hands of these quacks loosing precious time as well as money.
The widening knowledge gap is hampering the fight against kidney disease, and increasing the inherent associated mortality. Thus bridging the knowledge gap is the key to achieve Kidney health for All and was the theme for World Kidney Day 2022.
The World Kidney Day 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 is their blood pressure and what are the target levels and the treatment objectives. It is a cause that involves all of us in the kidney community worldwide — doctors (both nephrologists as well as primary care 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 focus to the kidney health in the setting of government policies can lead to major benefits both to patients and to health-care budget.
Thus a coordinated effort needs is made at all levels of society to address the growing epidemic of Kidney disease and Bridging the Knowledge gap is the key to achieve this as “Knowledge is Power”.
If you follow these seven golden rules you can safeguard your kidney health
(1) Monitor BP and keep under control if high.
(2) Monitor blood sugar and keep under control.
(3) Stop smoking.
(4) Avoid self use of pain killers and, antacid drugs like pantoperazole.
(5) Avoid herbal, ayurvedic drugs and other untested medications.
(6) Low salt diet and avoid fast foods.
(7) Do regular exercise and yoga.
For more information on kidney diseases please see my YouTube channel The kidney klinic