Wednesday, 18 March 2015

The Need For an Affordable Dialysis Machine

Lancet published an interesting article very recently - see it here. The Australian authors systematically looked through MedLine for renal studies and data. They found that at least 2.3 million people are dying EVERY YEAR due to lack of access to dialysis or a kidney transplant. It's possible that the figure could be a frightening 7.1 million with a huge number of these unfortunates being in Asia.

They found that there were approximately 2.6 million people receiving dialysis or on transplants, but there could be as many as 9.7 million who missed out, as treatment in developing countries is at a lower rate. They noted the largest treatment gaps in low-income countries, particularly Asia (1·907 million people needing but not receiving RRT; conservative model) and Africa (432 000 people; conservative model). Worldwide use of RRT is projected to more than double to 5·439 million (3·899–7·640 million) people by 2030, with the most growth in Asia (0·968 million to a projected 2·162 million [1·571–3·014 million]). One major and rather obvious reason for so many missing out is the annual bill for dialysis. So the George Institute and three research organisations are offering a $100,000 prize to the successful designer of the first low cost dialysis machine. Among the requirements are meet safety standards, run off solar power, purify water on the spot and cost $1000 to make. Current price??? up to $20,000! Are these machines overpriced, given that the technology has been around for half a century?

There was a second article on the same topic in the same issue of Lancet - read that one here. The findings of that article were very similar. Dialysis and kidney transplantation transformed medical care for patients with kidney failure, but these renal replacement therapies (RRTs) are unavailable to most patients who need them worldwide. Chronic kidney disease is now the 18th leading cause of death worldwide. Accurate estimation of the number of people with kidney failure receiving RRT and forecasting of future trends is essential for planning services and programmes to address kidney failure worldwide.

So let's hope that the prize for researchers is won sooner rather than later.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Kidney Disease Awareness Grows

It must be good news for many to hear this, especially given that we had World Kidney Day last week!

Organisations like the National Kidney Foundation do their best to raise awareness, and the continual stream of advice, along with advances in treating diabetes (one of THE major causes of kidney disease) and high blood pressure treatments seem to be getting through. Does it do any good? Well the American government reported in the latest figures availabble that there were fewer new cases of people going on to dialysis in 2011 compared to 2010. And over the previous two years the number of new cases held steady. LINK

This sort of news doesn't hit the headlines of newspapers, but for kidney disease sufferers, it is very welcome. Two factors were highlighted as being responsible - greater awareness and better treatment of the leading causes. Now if only they can get more transplants.