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Bridging the knowledgegap

Post by on Sunday, March 6, 2022

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World Kidney Day is a global campaign aimed at increasing awareness amongst the general public about the role of  kidneys in maintaining optimal health and also about various aspects of kidney diseases.

World Kidney Day is celebrated every year on the 2nd Thursday of March by convention. It is a joint initiative of the International Society of Nephrology  (ISN) and the International Federation of Kidney Foundations (IFKF) including the Indian Society of Nephrology.All across the world several events take place every year. The aim is to create awarenessabout risk factors for kidney disease,preventive behaviors and increasing knowledge about how to live with a kidney disease. 

Chronic kidney Disease (CKD) has become a commonbutunderdiagnosedproblemwith 1 out of 10 adult people worldwide having it. In the early stages, it is a silent disease and hence diagnosis is often delayed . If left untreated it can be deadly not only rapidly progressing to end stage renal disease but also causing damage to other organs notably the heart. Early detection allows for better disease care and management to helps prevent morbidity and mortality, and also improves cost effectiveness and sustainability. In spite of recent advances in diagnosis and management, kidney disease related mortality continues to increase yearly and is projected to be the 5th leading cause of death by 2040. 

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.

• 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 authentic information, and lack of readiness to learn.

• The healthcare worker – Surprisingly most primary care physicians are not appropriately informed about kidney disease because of the inherent weakness in our medical curriculum. Coupled to this is the weakness in our medical system in terms of absence of any requirement of re-certification . There is need is a more focused education of physicians, as they arethe ones who are the first point of contact between the patients and the healthcare system. 

• 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 four main diseases – cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease (including TB ) .

• 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 accelerated 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 stifling the fight against kidney disease, and increasing the inherent associated mortality. Thus bridging the knowledgegap is the key to achieve kidney health for All and this is the theme for World Kidney Day 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 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.

 There are several simple measures that can be implemented:

1. Encourage general public to adopt healthy diet and lifestyles (access to clean water, regular exercise, healthy diet, avoid smoking) to maintain good kidney health, preserve kidney function longer in those with CKD, and increase overall general awareness of the importance of kidneys.

2. Extend kidney patient education (including accurate and practical advice on diet and lifestyle) to empower patients, their care-partners, and their support systems to achieve the health outcomes and life goals that are meaningful and important to those with CKD including kidney failure.

3. Recognise patients’ and caregivers’ right to be able to assess, understand and use health information related to CKD.

4. Require kidney healthcare providers and patient organisations to offer information related to CKD according to varying levels of health literacy.

5. Educate and encourage primary care physicians to improve their recognition and management of patients with CKD across its entire spectrum from prevention and early detection of CKD to its secondary and tertiary prevention and kidney failure care.

6. Integrate CKD and kidney failure prevention into national non-communicable disease programs for comprehensive and integrated services, which are essential in improving the early detection and tracking of kidney care at country level.

7. Inform politicians about the impact of kidney disease and kidney failure on their constituents’ health and its associated burden on healthcare budgets/systems to encourage the adoption of policies and allocation of resources which tackle the global burden of kidney disease and ensure living well with kidney disease.

  

Thus a coordinated effort needs is made at all levels of society to address the growing epidemic of Kidney diseaseand bridging the knowledge gap is the key to achieve this as “Knowledge is Power”.

 

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