Watch out for the silent killers on World Kidney Day
Bengaluru, March 9, 2017: The world celebrates the second Thursday of March as World Kidney Day and this year it falls on March 9th. Kidney diseases are silent killers, as they don’t have any obvious symptoms till it reaches a severe stage by which time it is difficult to treat. The incidence of Acute or Chronic Kidney Diseases (CKD) is on the rise in India owing to life style changes with about 10% of the Indian population suffering from kidney diseases. There is also the misconception that these diseases affect only the elderly while, in truth, a large number of children are also at risk.
One of the major roadblocks in treating CKD is the affordability and availability of treatment. Thecost of treatment that includes haemodialysis and lack of insurance coveragemakes treatment highly prohibitive for many. The health cost of treating a patienton HD (dialysis + erythropoietin + dietary supplements + medications) in Indiais around INR 9,000 to 12,000 per month in subsidised dialysis units andbetween INR 20,000 and 30,000 in private hospitals in cities and metros. 70% ofthose who start treatment stop within 3 months owing to recurring costs monthon month and die. Dialysis machines used in India are primarily procured fromGermany or Japan and the minimum price of a unit is around Rs 5.5 lakhs. Butcompanies like Browndove, a Bengaluru based renal healthcare company, isexploring lower cost alternatives to make dialysis more accessible andaffordable. Also, Browndoves’ dedicatedrenal care devices manufacturing facility in Bengaluru with its in house R& D is working on reducing the overall cost of renal care treatment inIndia.
The other issue isavailability - in India, only one out of 10 has access to treatment, dialysisor kidney transplant. Currently, there are only about 1,800 nephrologists inIndia for the entire population (about 1.3 for every million Indians). Similarly,the number of trained dialysis technicians and nurses is inadequate. Themismatch in supply and demand is further aggravated by unequal distribution innephrology services, which is concentrated in cities and metros while themajority of the population is in smaller towns and rural areas. Estimates putthe number of patients on dialysis in India currently at about 120,000 anddemand for dialysis is growing at 31% yearly.
Awarenessabout the seriousness of kidney disease and kidney failure is far less thanthat for cancer and heart attack. This lack of awareness keeps people fromtaking preventive steps and seeking timely treatment for kidney disease. Forearly detection, most nephrologists recommend routine urine test and bloodpressure examination, especially if there are signs of the individual being inthe high risk population. Early referral to nephrologists, appropriatetreatment of hypertension, lifestyle modification with reduction in saltintake, physical exercise, not smoking, keeping blood sugar levels undercontrol will help stop kidney disease going into an advanced stage.