Aiming Towards International Universal Health Coverage by 2030: Focusing on Kidney Health

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), has been identified as the 8th leading cause of death and 10th leading cause of disability worldwide, accounting for more than 16 to 32 healthy years of life lost each year and its global prevalence ranging from 8% to 10%. Health systems are stretched to meet population needs for kidney care. Financing, training and building human resources and strengthening information systems and delivering the care are insurmountable challenges for countries globally.

Despite being a global concern, CKD disproportionately affects people from lower-middle-income countries. In India, the prevalence of CKD has increased to epidemic proportions and population-based studies have reported a 4%–20% prevalence of CKD in India. As per WHO’s Global report on kidney disease, the 2023 ISN-GKHA shows that, from the approximately 850 million people affected by CKD worldwide, people of every age and race are affected, and people from disadvantaged populations are at higher risk.

In the recent years, Universal Health coverage (UHC) has gained traction among global health proponents, trans-national funding agencies, policy makers, health care advocacy group. The ambitious goal of achieving International Universal Health Coverage by 2030 is a challenge in itself but at the same time achievable. One also needs to have their focus on kidney health as an integral component of this vision which is not only necessary but also demonstrates our dedication to leaving no one behind in the pursuit of better health for all. It requires comprehensive healthcare systems that prioritize preventive measures and treatment accessibility for all. Addressing kidney health, under this vision, emerges as a critical component in achieving the larger goal of Universal Health Coverage.

Since Kidney disease is silently progressive it would be prudent for health systems to design a coherent strategy to promote awareness about kidney disease, develop and disseminate “high risk” screening programs, improving access, availability of low cost technology and drugs and interventions to slow progression of Kidney disease are key. The delivery of comprehensive kidney healthcare services is hampered by a lack of resources, inadequate infrastructure, and socioeconomic factors, particularly in low and middle-income countries.

Hence, to achieve Universal Health Coverage by 2030 the below steps need to be followed:

1. Preventive Measures: Lifestyle changes that are through education and awareness campaigns, regular screenings, and early detection are critical in preventing the onset and progression of CKD.

2. Accessible Care: Integrating kidney health services into primary care settings strengthens healthcare systems by ensuring early diagnosis and treatment initiation, since the interventions are clearly known.

3. Innovative Technologies: Embracing technological advancements such as telemedicine and AI-driven diagnostics can help to bridge geographical gaps and improve healthcare access, particularly in remote areas.

4. Collaborative Efforts: International partnerships, knowledge sharing, and collaborations between governments, healthcare organizations, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are critical in driving sustainable solutions and sharing best practices worldwide.

As a result, improving healthcare accessibility, particularly in kidney health issues, the above steps serve as a guiding light on the path to a healthier, more equitable world. With collaborative efforts and steadfast commitment, we can achieve UHC and comprehensive kidney health for all by 2030.

By Dr. Suresh Sankar, Senior Nephrologist, NephroPlus

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