Junior Health Minister delivers address for World Kidney Day

NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS  (March 14, 2019) — The following is an address delivered by Hon. Hazel Brandy-Williams, Junior Minister of Health in the Nevis Island Administration on the occasion of World Kidney Day which is observed annually on the second Thursday in March.

The prevalence of kidney disease and the cost associated with treating this public health epidemic weighs heavily on healthcare budgets globally. It is estimated that 850 million people worldwide are affected with kidney disease. Chronic kidney disease causes at least 2.4 million deaths each year and is now ranked as the sixth leading cause of death worldwide. Nevertheless, many types of kidney diseases can be prevented, delayed and/or kept under control if appropriate preventive measures are in place.

Today 14th March is recognised as World Kidney Day, and we join the global community in raising awareness by promoting the theme “Kidney Health for Everyone.” This year’s theme calls for “universal coverage” for the prevention, diagnosis and early treatment of kidney disease.

Although kidney disease has numerous complex causes, research has shown that hypertension and diabetes are the most common. Hypertensive and diabetic patients with kidney failure present higher morbidity and mortality rates than those with normal kidney function. The prevalence of chronic kidney disease is expected to increase not only as a result of the rise in life expectancy but also as a result of the high prevalence of obesity, hypertension and diabetes in the general population. To date Nevis’ Public Health centres have on record 473 diabetic and 522 hypertensive patients and those figures are expected to increase.

Chronic kidney diseases are not curable and can trigger a myriad of other health problems such as heart attacks and strokes, which may lead to premature death or lifelong disabilities. Our best hope for reducing the human and socioeconomic cost associated with this epidemic therefore lies in prevention.

As we forge forward in achieving Sustainable Development Goal Number 3: “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages” the Ministry of Health will continue to:

  1. Implement community health education programmes aimed at encouraging persons to adopt healthier lifestyles which include regular exercise, healthy diets and reduced consumption of alcohol and tobacco.
  2. Make screening for kidney diseases a primary healthcare intervention as screening of high risk individuals and early diagnosis and treatment is cost effective in preventing or delaying end-stage kidney disease.
  3. Ensure chronic kidney disease patients have access to and receive the basic health services they need to improve their quality of life. These include access to essential medications, appropriate tests and management including dialysis to delay disease progression without experiencing financial hardship.
  4. Encourage a multi-sectoral approach to non-communicable disease prevention by engaging our partners in the Ministries of Education, Agriculture, Sports and non-governmental organizations such as the Nevis Renal Society which continue to highlight the importance of health education, proper nutrition and active living.

We continue our partnership with the government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in the Chronic Kidney Disease Project which aims to assist the Federation in decreasing the burden of chronic kidney disease through education, screening and management. To date three healthcare providers have been trained and three more expected to be trained by the end of May 2019 by the Taiwanese Government in an effort to ensure that this programme is sustainable following the completion of this project.

There is now a global thrust towards salt reduction in the general population. The World Health Organization and World Health Assembly targets to reduce non-communicable diseases by 2025, including a 30 percent reduction in population salt intake across the population. Salt reduction is important for reducing hypertension, the risk of cardiovascular accidents and chronic kidney disease. I take this opportunity to invite the general public to join us in our Salt Awareness Week which covers the period 10th to 15th March 2019, under the theme “Reduce your salt; Protect your kidneys – Pinch, Don’t Pour.”

 I end by encouraging all of us to take very special care of our kidneys as we all work together to promote Kidney Health for Everyone Everywhere.

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