Professor Everard N. Barton, director of the Caribbean Institute of Nephrology based at the University of the West Indies, is stressing the need for persons to focus on measures to prevent the onset of kidney disease as the nations struggles with limited resources.
"With countries that are even more endowed than us here in Jamaica in terms of finances, they really can't support hundreds of dialysis units and so we have to prevent; we have to slow progression for those who actually have the disease and then we have to aim at transplantation, which is a lot cheaper," Barton told The Gleaner following a service held yesterday at the St Margaret's Anglican Church in Kingston to launch Kidney Week.
Barton also noted it was important for persons to become adequately educated about the disease.
"A lot of persons don't know that when there is early kidney disease a lot of things can be done to slow it, and so a lot of the doctors and nurse practitioners are referring their patients early and steps are being taken," said Barton.
He added: "What we need is a comprehensive plan. We can't just focus on dialysis because when it gets to that stage, it means that we have failed. The bottom line is, however, prevention, prevention, prevention."
Paediatric nephrologist Dr Mayolynne Miller said it was important that parents especially observe signs and symptoms in their children so as as to prevent the development of severe kidney dysfunction.
"A lot of children turn up to us with kidneys that are irreversibly damaged. The parent who did not understand that the child who was growing shortest in the family was actually ill, the one that has no energy who they thought was just lazy is actually ill, and so we have to ensure that we look out for the signs and prevent as much as we can," she said.
World Kidney Day 2013, recognised on March 14, will focus on acute kidney injury with hopes of raising awareness and stimulating discussion, education and policy development leading to improved prevention and treatment across the globe.