Underlying causes of chronic kidney disease can be managed, detected and treated

Picture by Suraphat Nuea-on/pexels

Picture by Suraphat Nuea-on/pexels

Published Mar 14, 2023


Chronic Kidney Disease affects 850 million people worldwide and is a leading cause of death globally. An estimated 15% of people in Africa have the condition, rising to 30% in high-risk populations like people with diabetes.

Despite its deadly profile and rising prevalence, low public awareness means Chronic Kidney Disease is too often undetected and undertreated, without sufficient public health policies in place to address its rapid spread in Africa.

According to Viraj Rajadhyaksha, Area Medical Director for AstraZeneca in the Middle East and Africa, this is much higher than the global norm and poses a big problem for the area.

He claims that renal health experts from Africa and the Middle East identified the fact that there are large disparities in the care provided to those with CKD.

In a study that will be released later this month, they argue for increased action to stop the spread of the disease, highlighting the importance of early invention.

A community-based study by Nonkululeko Hellen Navise and Gontse Gratitude Mokwatsi on Kidney dysfunction found that chronic kidney disease (CKD) is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide.

The study also makes reference to the fact that in South Africa, where non-communicable diseases are increasingly the leading causes of mortality, it is unknown what percentage of the population actually has CKD and that the risk factors that go along with it are still poorly understood.

Rajadhyaksha asserts that there is no cure for CKD and that expensive, intrusive therapies like dialysis and transplantation that are necessary for the disease's latter stages constitute a big financial burden on healthcare systems.

The pandemic has only made this problem worse because CKD is one of the most common risk factors for developing severe Covid-19. To put a stop to the neglect, governments, organisations, healthcare professionals, and the commercial sector must collaborate, with an emphasis on education, prevention, and early detection.

He makes a suggestion that the underlying causes of CKD can be managed, detected, and treated to prevent the disease from ever developing.

It should come as no surprise that the main causes of CKD obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure—have also increased in incidence across Africa over the past few decades.

“Increased support with integrated care approaches for patients with these conditions will not only improve general health outcomes but also help to avert instances of CKD and help countries to build sustainable, more resilient health systems. After all, prevention is always better than a cure,” said Rajadhyaksha in a statement.

Further, early detection of CKD allows patients who have already developed the disease to continue to live long and healthy lives.

Policymakers should prioritise routine CKD screening among high-risk groups to achieve this, which is made possible by the quick and affordable diagnostics that are available to detect it.

AstraZeneca is collaborating with governments and healthcare providers in the area to strengthen capacities and capabilities for early diagnosis, including the creation of the SEARCH initiative to promote the early detection of individuals who are at risk.

Aiming primarily at patients with pre-existing diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, or cardiovascular disease, all of which increase the chance of developing CKD, SEARCH has made it possible to test roughly 500,000 people for CKD to date.

Last but not least, education is crucial to empowering patients and healthcare professionals with the information, skills, and confidence they need to live with and manage this illness.

In order to improve their prognosis, patients should be able to understand their risks based on current conditions, how to detect CKD early, and the treatment choices available to them.

“Peer-to-peer support can also help build confidence around healthy lifestyle changes, exercise, and adherence to treatment,” said Rajadhyaksha.