Should World Kidney Day be every day?
Happy World Kidney Day! A day for raising the importance of healthy kidneys everywhere. A moment to stop and thank our own kidneys - and make sure we are doing our best to look after them...
Prevention is of course the greenest form of healthcare, and WKD is a great initiative. But with 50,000 people in the UK who have end-stage renal failure, there is clearly more to do. So what role does the kidney care community have in stopping new patients from coming through the doors?
"But what can we do about rising obesity and ageing population?" you may ask. Traditionally, clinical medicine has been widely separated from public health. But maybe it is time to rethink. The Royal College of Physicians has called on doctors to take "a lead in protecting and promoting health, and preventing ill-health", including working collaboratively across all sectors.* Former president of the RCP, liver specialist Ian Gilmore, has been leading by example with his advocacy on alcohol pricing.
Policy makers and the public trust clinicians, but we don't often speak out. Many thousands of people are developing kidney failure because as a society we are eating unhealthily and not keeping fit. Is it time that kidney professionals informed ourselves about transport and food policies which could reduce overweight and save billions of nephrons?
Secondly, in the clinical setting, we have an opportunity to help patients to change their lifestyle to minimise disease progression and reduce the need for diabetic and antihypertensive medications. Do we give this enough attention in our day-to-day practice? Could we do more to make sure it is included in every consultation?
Finally, let's not forget our own kidneys! A quick reminder of WKD advice for keeping your kidneys healthy:
- Keep your weight in check
- Keep the Pressure Down - know your blood pressure
- Keep fit and active
- Don't smoke
- Have your kidney function checked - especially if anyone in your family has suffered from kidney disease, if you are diabetic, or are of Asian or African ancestry
(On the subject of keeping fit and active, "Bike Week" will be from 16-24 June this year - let's get all the Green Nephrology kidney units involved!)
*How doctors can close the gap Tackling the social determinants of health. Policy Statement, Royal College of Physicians 2010.