Urology Hospital to offer free kidney health screening

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a serious health concern affecting millions of people worldwide. Picture: Robina Weermeijer /Unsplash

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a serious health concern affecting millions of people worldwide. Picture: Robina Weermeijer /Unsplash

Published Mar 11, 2024


Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a serious health concern affecting millions of people worldwide, with over 850 million individuals impacted, and resulting in more than 3.1 million deaths in 2019.

In South Africa, up to one in eight people are affected by CKD, highlighting the urgent need for awareness and proactive measures to address this issue.

Untreated kidney failure can be life-threatening, making it crucial to prioritise kidney health. Currently, kidney disease ranks as the 8th leading cause of death and, if left to continue, it is projected to become the 5th leading cause of years of life lost by 2040.

In response to this pressing health issue, the Urology Hospital in Pretoria is taking a proactive approach by offering free kidney health screenings to the public on March 14 - 15.

Dr Fikile Tsela, a Nephrologist at The Urology Hospital Pretoria, expressed the hospital's commitment to promoting kidney health, stating, "This year’s World Kidney Day theme, Kidney Health for All, inspired us. We believe that the local and national community can greatly benefit from free screening."

The prevalence of CKD in South Africa is estimated to be 10.7%, according to the International Society of Nephrology (ISN) Global Health Atlas survey for Africa.

This disease disproportionately affects socio-economically disadvantaged communities, particularly those in urban areas.

As Dr Tsela pointed out, CKD is often asymptomatic in its early stages and targeted screening is essential for early detection and management.

"Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is also known as a 'silent disease'," Dr Tsela explained.

"Targeted screening of people at risk of developing CKD is therefore critical for early detection, prevention, or slowing down of progression and timely management of CKD."

Kidneys filter out toxins, excess salts, and urea—a waste product formed through the normal breakdown of proteins in the liver. Picture: Pixabay/Unsplash

The initiative by the Urology Hospital aims to raise awareness about CKD and provide accessible screenings to the public, with the goal of promoting early detection and proactive management of this widespread health issue.

Kidneys are among the most vital organs in the human body, performing essential functions that keep us healthy.

On World Kidney Day, which is held on the second Thursday in March, healthcare providers and organisations worldwide aim to raise awareness about kidney health and the importance of screening for kidney diseases.

What are kidneys and what do they do?

Kidneys are bean-shaped organs, each about the size of a fist, located just below the rib cage on either side of the spine.

These powerful filtration units perform several critical roles:

Removing wastes and excess fluids: Kidneys filter out toxins, excess salts, and urea—a waste product formed through the normal breakdown of proteins in the liver.

Balancing electrolytes: They help maintain a balance of electrolytes, such as potassium, phosphates, and sodium.

Producing hormones: Among other hormones, kidneys produce erythropoietin which stimulates red blood cell production and renin, which regulates blood pressure.

Activating Vitamin D: This is important for healthy bones.

What is World Kidney Day?

World Kidney Day is a global health awareness campaign that focuses on the importance of our kidneys and reducing the frequency and impact of kidney disease, and associated health problems.

The day brings together millions of people in over 160 countries to create awareness. Health professionals, kidney patients, and influential public figures campaign to help educate the public about preventive behaviours, risk factors and how to live with a kidney disease.

The importance of screening

Early detection of kidney disease can help prevent complications and slow progression, yet awareness about this silent killer is often insufficient.

Kidney diseases are known as "silent diseases" because many people may not experience symptoms until the late stages.

Regular screening is critical, especially for individuals at high risk, including those with:

- Diabetes.

- High blood pressure.

- Heart disease.

- A family history of kidney failure.

- Age above 60 years.

Typical screening for kidney function involves:

Blood pressure measurement: Since high blood pressure can lead to kidney damage.

Blood test: To measure the level of creatinine which is used to estimate glomerular filtration rate (GFR), indicating how well the kidneys are filtering.

Urine test: Looking for protein or blood, which can be indicators of kidney issues.

How to Support Kidney Health

Maintain a healthy and balanced diet.

Regular exercise.

Stay hydrated.

Limit intake of over-the-counter pills and avoid substances that can harm the kidneys.

Regular health check-ups.

Dr Tsela said: “The newly opened Uro Kidney Care Dialysis Unit aims to provide comprehensive kidney care service to patients with acute and chronic kidney disease.

“With a focus on haemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis, continuous renal replacement therapy and pre-dialysis management we are committed to offering high-quality, patient-centred care for patients in South Africa and the rest of Africa.

“With early detection and treatment, the right care and management, kidney disease can be slowed down and sometimes prevented.”

Free screening dates & times: March 14 - 15 (10am to 2pm)

Address: Urology Hospital, Cnr. Grosvenor & Pretorius Street, Hatfield, Pretoria

Screening criteria: Hypertensive, diabetic, family history of kidney disease, overweight and smoking.