Media Release by Hon Kevin Andrews MP

Kidney Health Week: early detection reduces impact of kidney disease

A greater emphasis on early detection is vital if Australia is to reduce the impact for kidney disease, Minister for Social Services Kevin Andrews said today at the launch of National Kidney Health Week.

“Around 1.7 million Australians aged 18 years or over are estimated to have some form of chronic kidney disease (CKD). This can range from mild to severe, and it is understood that more than 18,000 of these people require either a kidney transplant or regular dialysis in order to survive,” Mr Andrews, representing the Prime Minister, said at the launch.

“Risk factors such as obesity, inadequate diet and physical inactivity contribute prominently to the onset of CKD, which also contributes to – and is impacted by – other chronic diseases including diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” he said.

Mr Andrews congratulated Kidney Health Australia on the launch of ‘KidneyCheck’ – an Australian first, self-management tool for people with a chronic condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure, to manage their CKD risk.

“For more than 40 years, Kidney Health Australia has promoted good kidney health through education, advocacy, research and support activities,” he said.

“KidneyCheck is the latest initiative of Kidney Health Australia, and any initiative that makes it easier for Australians to self-monitor their health is a positive step.

“Early detection is essential in addressing kidney disease as up to 90 per cent of kidney function can be lost before symptoms become evident.

“This makes the lifestyle choices we take each day – particularly diet and exercise – all the more important when it comes to maintaining kidney health.

“Nearly 30 per cent of Australian adults are obese, around 93 per cent do not meet the recommended intake of vegetables, and more than half of us don’t get enough exercise.

“In 2004-05, CKD accounted for almost $900 million or 1.7% of total health care expenditure, with dialysis alone accounting for two-thirds of this cost.

“By identifying kidney disease early, we can not only realise improved health outcomes for affected Australians, but also significant savings to the health system,” Mr Andrews said.