The European Kidney Health Alliance (EKHA) and World Kidney Day (WKD) organisations today call for European Union (EU) support. Early awareness, identification and treatment of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and its associated diseases, including diabetes - the leading cause of CKD(1) - must be prioritised on the EU health agenda. The Members of European Parliament (MEP) Group for Kidney Health met with distinguished panellists at the European Parliament in Strasbourg today at a meeting held to coincide with the annual global health awareness campaign World Kidney Day, 11th March 2010. 

Mrs. Frieda Brepoels MEP commented, The European Union should continue to encourage the competent authorities in the Member States to take action to address the problem of chronic kidney disease, diabetes and the other associated diseases. Preventative strategies are the only way to minimise the number of people needing organ transplants in the future. Increasing awareness of CKD is the first and, perhaps, most important step towards preventing kidney failure. Today, we urge the EU to use its authoritative voice to support competent authorities in developing public health programs that acknowledge the importance of preventing CKD.

Speaking at the event, Professor Andrew Rees, Chairman of EKHA commented, Although, chronic kidney disease affects at least 10% of the European population(2), there is little awareness of the problems it causes, particularly amongst high-risk groups such as patients with diabetes. Today we are calling for novel strategies to improve early detection of CKD as part of a coordinated approach to tackle major chronic diseases.

Indeed, the lack of awareness among at-risk patients was illustrated by results from a pan-European survey conducted amongst diabetes patients which showed that, while the majority of respondents (67%) with diabetes were aware that they were at increased risk of CKD, worryingly, almost 70% have never discussed steps they should take to look after their kidneys with their doctor. Only 12% of these respondents correctly assumed that CKD has no obvious symptoms, highlighting the urgent need to raise awareness and improve early detection of CKD.

Professor Eberhard Ritz, Department Internal Medicine, Ruperto Carola University, Nierenzentrum, Heidelberg added, There is an urgent need for improved public awareness, detection rates and subsequent management of chronic kidney disease in clinical practice. Through this, we hope to reduce the number of people needlessly suffering from CKD and its consequences.

 In its most advanced stage, CKD requires renal replacement therapy with dialysis or transplantation. The EU can play an important role in ensuring safety and quality standards of organs for transplantation and increasing the supply of available donor organs. Of special importance is to acknowledge the role living donation can play in helping to alleviate the current organ shortage. EKHA calls on the European Parliament to respect the different cultures and beliefs of the Union and to allow each Member State to decide individually whether living donation is complementary or subsidiary to deceased donation.