In the intricate workings of the human body the kidney plays the deceptively simple but very crucial role of the ‘refinery’. The kidneys are located against the back muscles in the upper abdominal area and sit opposite each other on both sides of the body. Apart from filtering metabolic wastes from the body they also produce hormones that help regulate blood pressure, stimulate red blood cell production and control calcium metabolism. If the kidneys’ capacity to filter blood is compromised by disease excess fluid and waste will build up in the body. World Kidney Day is observed on 9th March and its perennial primary objective is to pass on a simple message: this is an entirely preventable disease and with proper nutrition and a healthy lifestyle this is one ailment that one might quite easily side-step.
What is Kidney Failure?
Kidney Failure (or Renal Failure) refers to a condition of impaired kidney function where the capacity of the kidneys to filter metabolic wastes from the body is seriously hampered by disease.
Kidney disease will typically be noted through a significant reduction in the amount of urine, swelling of kegs, ankles and feet (due to fluid retention), nausea, seizures, shortness of breath and occasionally pain or pressure in the chest. Fatigue, excessive drowsiness and confusion, coupled with other symptoms, may also be indications of Renal Failure.
World Kidney Day, first marked in 2006 with the tagline Are Your Kidneys OK?, has become a significant annual event passing on many crucial messages which are important enough to repeat here. In 2007 it was pointed out that although kidney disease was common and harmful it was nevertheless treatable. 2009 saw the link between blood pressure and Renal Failure underscored: Protect Your Kidneys, Keep Your Pressure Down. Subsequent years saw the same theme of protecting your kidneys. By controlling Diabetes the happy by-product is a healthy kidney. Protecting your kidneys also contributes significantly in saving your heart. In 2014 the focus was on Chronic Kidney Disease and Ageing while last year’s (2016) message underscored the need for early treatment and focused especially on Kidney Disease and Children.
World Kidney Day 2017
The World Kidney Day theme for 2017 is “Kidney Health and Obesity.” It is estimated that better than three-quarters of a billion adults worldwide are obese. Obesity is a recognised risk factor for the development of kidney disease. It is directly linked to diabetes and hypertension and these two conditions are active promoters of Chronic Kidney Disease. Obesity also obliges the kidneys to work harder resulting in hyper-filtration (filtering more blood than normal) to satisfy the increased metabolic demands of the larger body.
This global awareness campaign will be observed through public screenings, lectures and other sensitisation programmes. The keyword is awareness. Awareness about preventive behaviours; awareness about risk factors; awareness about the multi-faceted benefits of a healthy lifestyle and awareness of the adjustments necessary while living with kidney disease, both to the patients and their families.
As always ministries of health worldwide are expected to take a leading role in this campaign. Together with Private Sector and Non Governmental Organisations to help drive this campaign, the day will be marked with walks, free screenings, honouring of living donors, and other activities.