Kidney Health Australia is calling for a screening and management program for Australians most at risk of kidney disease
Kidney disease is one of Australia’s biggest killers. One in 10 adult Australians are at risk and the biggest risk factor is diabetes. In fact, one in three people living with diabetes will develop kidney disease in their lifetime.
Kidney Health Australia welcomes the listing of Finerenone (Kerendia) on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme for people with diabetic kidney disease. The introduction of the drug will help to slow progression to kidney failure, extending quality of life for so many.
“Increased access to any new treatment for kidney disease is good news. This will help people avoid the enormous costs of living with diabetic kidney disease and the progression to expensive and burdensome dialysis treatments in the future,” Kidney Health Australia CEO, Chris Forbes, said.
Mr Forbes, who attended the official announcement by the Minister for Health and Aged Care, The Hon Mark Butler MP, at St Vincent’s Hospital late last week, noted that new medications added to the PBS over the last two years are changing the way kidney disease is treated and managed.
“Now is the time to introduce thorough early screening and intervention programs for people at the greatest risk of kidney disease – those living with diabetes, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure,” Mr Forbes said.
“Greater availability of treatments for slowing Chronic Kidney Disease means we have to do more to identify the 1.8 million Australians unaware they have signs of kidney disease and help them manage the condition from start to end.”
“The nation must focus on a holistic approach that targets those at highest risk and goes beyond merely screening individuals, but must include ongoing management of the condition. It is the only way to get in front of this deadly disease.”
“Early diagnosis, better treatment and support post-diagnosis work together to significantly improve outcomes”, Mr Forbes added.
Kidney Health Australia recently released the Deloitte Economics Access report, a comprehensive expose on how kidney disease is now a national emergency. This report shows kidney disease costs the Australian economy $9.9 billion each year, including $2.3million in direct costs to the health system.
Breonny Robson, GM of Clinical and Research at Kidney Health Australia, who led the research said: “Due to the silent nature of kidney disease, a proactive approach through early diagnosis and better management gives us the best chance to reduce the burden of the disease for individuals, and also proves cost-effective at systemic and governmental levels.”
Early detection of kidney disease not only saves lives but also saves the health system money. The Deloitte Economics Access report shows that for every $1 invested in early detection of Chronic Kidney Disease, we save $45 in costs to the health system. Early detection of the disease can also prevent 38,000 deaths and avoid 237,000 hospitalisations.
“With Australian hospitals currently overwhelmed with the number of people requiring dialysis treatment, not enough access to treatment in regional areas, and kidney disease disproportionately affecting our First Nations populations, now is the time to focus on early detection and intervention,” Ms Robson said.
Mr Forbes added, “The longer we can keep Aussies out of hospital, working and enjoying life by slowing down kidney disease, the better for everyone.”
- Chronic kidney disease affects more than 2 million Australians – that’s almost one in every 10. This increases to 1 in 5 for First Nations Australians.
- 1.8 million Australians are unaware they have kidney disease.
- 3 in 4 Australians are at risk of kidney disease.
- Diabetes and hypertension cause half of all kidney failure cases in Australia.
- 1 in 3 people with diabetes have Chronic Kidney Disease.
- The presence of diabetes increases the death rate of dialysis patients by 33% and kidney transplant recipients by 147%.
- Around 66 Australians die per day with chronic kidney disease (more than breast and prostate cancer and road accidents).
- Chronic kidney disease contributes to 1 in 6 hospitalisations in Australia.
- Chronic kidney disease is an underlying cause in 12 per cent of all deaths in Australia.
- The number of Australians receiving either dialysis or a kidney transplant has more than doubled between 2000 and 2020 from 11,700 to 27,702.
- Chronic kidney disease cost Australia $9.9 billion each year, including $2.3 billion to our healthcare system – an unnecessary cost if we diagnose kidney disease earlier.
- For every dollar invested in targeted early detection of chronic kidney disease, $45 in costs are saved in the health system.
- People can lose up to 90 per cent of their kidney function before symptoms appear. At this stage the damage is irreversible.
- Over 15,000 Australians are undergoing dialysis treatment and spend around 15 hours per week strapped to a dialysis machine to artificially clean their blood and stay alive.
Text by: Kidney Health Australia