There is an estimated number of 20,000 patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) in Pakistan and most of them do not have a formal diagnosis. Pakistan ranks 8th in world for prevalence in kidney related disorders.

The incidence of CKD is rising in Pakistan and South Asian countries due to disparity in available healthcare services, lack of health education and primary healthcare, inadequate healthcare budget and absence of any established mechanism for screening of common risk factors for CKD such as diabetes and hypertension.

This year, World Kidney Day has a theme ‘kidney health for everyone everywhere’. This could not be more pertinent for a country like Pakistan where CKD awareness and healthcare resources are scarce. CKD causes 2.4 million deaths per year and is now sixth fastest growing cause of death. Acute kidney injury (AKI or acute renal failure) is common in Pakistan with several hundred people presenting to acute medical emergencies on a daily basis. This can lead to CKD and then result in increased morbidity and mortality.

In a country like Pakistan, risk factors for AKI and CKD are indigenous such as social conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age including poverty, gender discrimination, lack of education, occupational hazards and pollution among others.

Many a time patients are prescribed nephrotoxic medications, which result in permanent renal failure and increased mortality.

There is a dire need to educate people regarding prevalence and need to diagnose and control risk factors for CKD such as diabetes, uncontrolled hypertension, obesity and over the counter and hakeem medications which could be harmful to the kidneys. There is a need to inform masses regarding importance of screening for kidney related problems by performing regular BP check, and kidney function tests (including a urine examination) at least once a year to detect any renal problems.

In addition, I would like to encourage people to adopt healthy lifestyle (access to clean water, exercise, healthy diet, tobacco control including smoking cessation). With these simple measures, severalkidneys related problems can be delayed or prevented.

Here at Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Center, the medical staff ensures that all patients are appropriately screened for kidney disease and are provided with appropriate education regarding kidney disease treatment and follow-up. People with acute or chronic kidney problems are reviewed and followed up by the Nephrology team.

Last but not the least, there is an urgent call to government to development and implement healthcare policies governing equitable and sustainable access to advanced healthcare services such as dialysis and renal transplantation to everyone in need, regardless of their ability to pay. 

 

The writer is a Consultant

Nephrologist Head, Department

of Internal Medicine.