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News Article

Shining a Light on the Most Neglected Chronic Disease

By Miriam Bello | Wed, 03/10/2021 - 16:44

This year, World Kidney Day is celebrated on Mar. 11. The theme for this year is “Living Well With Kidney Disease,” which is centered around education and awareness about disease management and patient empowerment. According to the World Kidney Day Organization, from diagnosis to advanced stages of the ailment, different aspects of patients’ lives are impacted by the disease, beginning with their social relations and their ability to participate in daily life activities, such as work or travel.

The organization exposed that so far, attention and treatment of kidney disease lack patient-centricity. This is a barrier to generate patient engagement, which favors the progression of the disease. This year, World Kidney Day seeks to include patients in the development of their care approaches, boosting treatment engagement. The theme was also established to introduce holistic symptom management, which is based on having effective strategies to confront pain, sleep issues, anxiety, depression, stress, mobility and frailty.

Kidneys filter waste and excess fluids from the blood, which are then excreted through urine. According to the National Institute of Public Health (INSP), chronic kidney disease, also called chronic kidney failure, describes the gradual loss of kidney function. When chronic kidney disease reaches an advanced stage, dangerous levels of fluids, electrolytes and waste can build up in the body.

Chronic kidney disease has been categorized as the most neglected disease of its type. WHO explains that this term derives from lack of attention as complications present in the socioeconomic sphere. This can also derive in infectious secondary diseases as a result of insufficient sanitation, inadequate provision of drinking water, environmental pollutants and high concentration of disease-transmitting vectors, malnutrition and obesity and bad health conditions among newborns and older people.

Just as in most developing countries, in Mexico, kidney disease is in fact linked to poverty. Treating this disease is highly expensive and requires constant treatment and attention. According to a study by Medigraphic, in Mexico, the highly fragmented health system has resulted in very unequal and disrupted renal replacement therapy. Just in 2018, chronic kidney diseases were the second leading cause of death in Mexico. Moreover, kidney disease is related to the development of diabetes and hypertension, the leading chronic diseases in the country. Kidney disease is also expensive for the health system and for Mexican families, as the majority of people in Mexico absorb health expenditure themselves. The average annual expenditure in Mexico for this disease is of US$1.3 billion.

Andrés Gutiérrez Katz, CEO and Founder of Médica Santa Carmen, a clinic dedicated to treat kidney failure, shared with MBN the innovative ways to approach kidney failure and generate patient engagement. According to Gutiérrez Katz, the clinic analyzed public and private services and they saw that to ensure treatment continuity, patients require access to everything they need, from nutrition, specialist consultations and consumables to support systems in case things go wrong. Médica Santa Carmen developed a subscription-based model that takes care of those peripherals to have everything delivered to the patient’s home through a “health line.” “We launched ‘Diálisis en casa’ (Dialysis at home) in 2019, which makes us the first provider to have a peritoneal dialysis offering. Currently, only government institutions provide this treatment,” said Gutiérrez Katz.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, patients with kidney failure faced many disruptions to their treatment. Moreover, COVID-19 effects can generate septic shocks that cause acute kidney failure. “Kidney failure is a disease that will continue when COVID-19 is gone and if we act properly during this crisis, we could continue to be important actors in the private sector,” said Gutiérrez Katz.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease enlists the following recommendations to keep kidneys healthy:

  • Making healthy food choices with a maximum of 2.3g of sodium a day
  • At least 30 minutes of physical activity per day
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Having enough sleep (from seven to eight hours a day)
  • Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol consumption
  • Reducing stressful activities
  • Managing diabetes, blood pressure and heart health
Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst