Minister urges people to get kidneys tested

| 10/03/2011

(CNS): In his message for World Kidney Day (10 March) Health Minister Mark Scotland is urging people in Cayman to take advantage of the day to get their kidney function tested, as he notes there is a high incidence of kidney disease in Cayman. Given the high levels of diabetes in the jurisdiction, the minister said one can draw a straight line from that to wider health problems, including kidney problems. Heart and kidney health are closely linked with high blood pressure, the most common cause of kidney damage, especially when associated with other factors like diabetes.

Minister of Health, Mark Scotland’s full message:

Today, March 10, is World Kidney Day – a good time to offer a few words about kidney health in particular and public health in general, always a critical subject and one which determines the well-being of the people of the Cayman Islands.

It is impossible to say too much about the importance of self-awareness and of taking personal responsibility for your own health — and that of your family. This year’s slogan for World Kidney Day is “Protect Your Kidneys, Save Your Heart”. The connection is no coincidence.

Perhaps the best place to start is to observe that Cayman has a high incidence of kidney disease. That should not, however, come as a surprise when you consider the high incidence of diabetes we have, and you can draw a straight line from that to larger implications for high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, smoking and other circulatory and respiratory problems — even to diets lacking in fruit and vegetables.

Heart health and kidney health are closely interlinked. High blood pressure is the most common cause of kidney damage, especially when associated with other factors like diabetes, high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease.

If you have kidney disease, your risk of heart disease and premature death is three times higher than those who do not. When your kidneys don’t work properly, waste products accumulate and affect how your heart and blood vessels work. Kidney dysfunction increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, and can lead to a heart attack or stroke and a progressive loss in renal function over a period of months or years.

The strain on the public purse of these chronic conditions is significant, and not just in termsof meeting budgets and providing finance for hospital equipment, staff and treatment, but also in terms of lost production, lost working hours, in both the public and private sector.
I strongly encourage all of us to come together and to keep in mind the wider effects of World Kidney Day for our whole community.

Please, get tested on Thursday. Bring the family. Make it an act of support for the nation’s well-being.

If you cannot make it on Thursday, make an appointment to get tested, whether at the hospital, your District Health Centre or your private physician. It is important you have this discussion, and the test is simple and painless.

Make sure your child’s school takes the free tour of the dialysis ward at the George Town Hospital.

Make sure you obtain, read and understandthe flyers being distributed island-wide describing preventative measures and early detection.

Finally, let me draw attention to the management and staff of the Health Services Authority, who are devoting a lot of important time and effort to World Kidney Day. The numerous public activities — from free screening to school tours of the dialysis unit to an evening lecture programme — are part of efforts to bring home to people the importance of kidney care and some of the things that individuals might do to promote, preserve and protect their own well-being.

Those efforts are being supported by Rotary Central and by the Diabetes Association.
Representatives of the Diabetes Association will attend the free screenings in the foyer of the George Town Hospital on Thursday between 11am and 1:30pm.

They will be there to answer questions, to recommend cautionary efforts and preventive measures, and even treatment options should the screenings indicate a need.

The HSA, Rotary Central and the Diabetes Association are valuable partners in our World Kidney Day efforts and we sincerely thank everyone involved for their support. Now it’s up to all of us to do our part.

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