Breaking down society’s barriers to kidney care

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One in three Australian adults are at risk of developing kidney disease – but the devastating condition disproportionately affects First Nations peoples living in remote areas.

Baxter Healthcare, a global leader in dialysis care, is pushing for change to break down the barriers of racial inequality, providing treatment and support across all communities.

Ahead of Kidney Health Week (Monday 15 March-Sunday 21 March), the company’s Australia and New Zealand General Manager, Steven Flynn, visited home and in-centre dialysis clinics in the Northern Territory.

“Racial inequality is sadly a very real barrier to living well with kidney disease,” he said.

“I saw first-hand this barrier and the need to help close the gap in healthcare disparities.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults living in remote areas are more than twice as likely as those living in non-remote areas to have signs of chronic kidney disease, according to Kidney Health Australia.

In New Zealand, the disparity in the incidence rates of end-stage kidney disease for Māori patients are markedly and persistently higher than those for non-Māori, non-Pasifika patients, according to ANZDATA Annual Report 2019.

“We must act to prevent and treat this insidious disease among Indigenous and First Nations peoples. And we must activate change today,” Mr Flynn said, emphasising the urgency of the situation.

“Speaking with dedicated and expert local clinicians, patient groups and policy makers in the Northern Territory, we discussed the barriers to dialysis care and the prevalence of kidney disease among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” he added.

Kidneys play a key role in cleaning blood and eliminating the body’s waste via urine, and when they stop working the health implications are significant.

However, 90 percent of kidney function can be lost before experiencing symptoms – fatigue, loss of appetite, swelling of extremities, blood in urine, itchy skin – so early detection is important.

People most at risk are over 60, with factors including high blood pressure, obesity, smoking, family history of kidney problems, and cardiovascular disease.

“We are all too aware of the need to connect more with Māori and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and work with them to solve this social and health problem,” Mr Flynn said.

“Through collaboration and new and innovative programs and therapies, I believe we can improve the quality of patient care and help dialysis patients to stay home and in their communities.”

Meanwhile, Baxter Healthcare announced its support for World Kidney Day 2021 (Thursday 11 March) with new economic modelling showing the benefits of remote-patient management technology for home-based peritoneal dialysis. 

It sponsored a paper published by the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR) that estimated a reduction in hospital episodes and potential financial savings to the healthcare system from Baxter Sharesource remote-patient management technology for Automated Peritonal Dialysis (APD).

Over a 12-month period, for each 100 people on two-way remote patient monitoring by Sharesource while undergoing APD, the estimated reduction in hospitals episodes is 36 with potential savings of approximately $324,488 compared to traditional APD.

“Kidney disease is a growing social, economic and health problem globally,” Mr Flynn said.

“Collaboration among patient groups, healthcare providers, policy makers and industry is needed to increase education, awareness and patient empowerment to live well with kidney disease.” 

Baxter Healthcare is an APHA Major Sponsor.

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