World Kidney Day (WKD) is a global awareness campaign aimed at raising awareness of the importance of our kidneys held on the second Thursday in March every year.
WKD comes back every year. All across the globe many hundred events take place from public screenings in Argentina to Zumba marathons in Malaysia. It is aimed at creating awareness about kidney and health which in turn plays a large role in preventing kidney-related diseases. Awareness about preventive behaviors, awareness about risk factors, and awareness about how to live with kidney disease. These are done to achieve kidney health for all.
The kidneys are two bean shaped organs found in the right and left sides of the body in vertebrates. The nephron is the functional and structural unit of the kidney, each adult kidney contains about 1million nephrons.
The kidneys basically filters blood from all wastes and purifies blood, the filtered waste is excreted through the excretory system.
Other functions of the kidneys include:
Regulation of body fluid and electrolytes, Erythropoiesis – production of red blood cells, Excretion of wastes and toxins and Production of hormones.
To Protect your Kidneys:-
Keep fit and active, Keep regular control of your blood sugar level, regular BP check, healthy fluid intake, do not smoke, do not take Over The Counter (OTC) pills, get your kidney function test especially if : you have diabetes, you have hypertension, you are obese, you have family member(s) who suffer(s) from kidney disease, you are African, Aboriginal, Hispanic or Asian origin.
The importance of healthy kidneys cannot be over emphasized as these functions are very important for normal physiological functioning of the body.
World Kidney Day started in 2006 and has not stopped growing ever since. Every year, the campaign highlights a particular theme. The 2018 WKD theme is ‘Kidney Disease and Women’s Health’.
March 8 this year, coincidentally marks two important global campaigns – IWD AND WKD. The theme therefore, ascribed to this year’s world kidney day is to focus on the burden and impact of kidney disease on women, looking at the specific difficulties faced by this segment of the population. Women today still have least access to education and technology.
Impacts of Kidney diseases on women are as follows;
- Compromised fertility
- Severe high blood pressure, protein losses in the urine, and worsening of CKD in the mother
- Prematurity and low birth weight in the baby.
- Increased the risk of future kidney problems in the new-born.
- Increased risk of complications from kidney transplant and dialysis.
- Inequality in the registration of women on deceased organ donation waiting lists and longer waiting times for women on dialysis.
- Women tend to serve more often as kidney donors – mothers and wives are much more likely to be donors than fathers or husbands.
- Substantial inequality in access to care between the genders.
- Psychological and emotional stress which may lead to mental health illnesses such as depression.
Women in our country today, still have less access to education and therefore tend to be more financially dependent on men. In the majority of the families, men may be the sole or major bread-winners. The family’s need to keep a male member who is usually the bread winner with CKD in the work-force may be a strong factor impacting the higher likelihood of women serving as donors as they are left with no other source of provision, consequentially, a woman may be donating due to a feeling of obligation or under coercion from the male patient or other family members. For the working woman with a family, an underlying chronic medical problem such as End Stage Kidney Disease, which requires the time commitment, demanded by regular dialysis or kidney transplant planning, recovery and follow up can be a major challenge. The additional stigma can significantly affect her marriage prospects and therefore future family life.
The annual World Kidney Day campaign allows us to assess where we are today with kidney health across the globe. This year’s theme of women’s health has focused our attention on the specific difficulties faced by women with kidney diseases as well as those who have loved ones suffering from these diseases. There are medical aspects to consider – certain kidney conditions disproportionately impact women, pregnancy and the health of the unborn child; and there are complex socio-economic, psychological and cultural aspects to consider in the world.
Advancements in medicine, more awareness and a greater impetus on the part of the medical fraternity and government to increase access to health care for women will pave way for better outcomes in the future. Improvement in our understanding of pregnancy and kidney diseases, access to pre-conception primary care to detect baseline kidney problems, and access to good prenatal and antenatal care is essential.