It is just as important for Barbadians to know the status of their kidney health, as it is for them to know their HIV status. This is recommended as some people are walking around not knowing they are on the brink of developing chronic kidney disease.

Sister in the Artificial Kidney Unit (AKU) of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Beverly Callender, said many of the patients she sees at the unit on a daily basis are in the productive age groups – their 20s, 30s and 40s. This, she pointed out, could have serious repercussions for the labour force and productive sector.

She made these comments at a joint initiative between the AKU and the Barbados Kidney Association during World Kidney Day on Thursday, in Jubilee Gardens, the City, to spread awareness about chronic kidney disease and how to prevent it. Visitors took advantage of free blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol testing as hypertension and diabetes are two of the major causes of chronic kidney disease.

"It is important to take care of our health because if we keep our diabetes and our high blood pressure down, then we wouldn’t have so much kidney failure because when you go on dialysis, it is a very expensive procedure. It takes up resources, and your time, because you have to take time from work to get treatment – prevention is better than cure!

"One trend is that we are not getting many older people; we are getting younger ones and that is scary because that is the labour force. I think it is their diets; they are eating a lot of fast foods. I think we need to start with our children in primary schools to make them aware from early, so they can develop healthy eating habits. Also, we don’t exercise enough and then you develop hypertension," Ms. Callender observed.

Vice president of the Barbados Kidney Association, Theophilus Norville, said some Barbadians possessed very little knowledge about their kidneys and how to properly take care of them. He disclosed that in his interactions with members of the public at various outreach initiatives, some of them did not even know how many kidneys they had.

"People haven’t been asking enough questions but when we take their [blood] pressure or [blood] sugar at these events that is where the dialogue comes in. If the blood pressure is too high, we ask them when last they saw their doctor or we advise them to see their doctor. There are a lot of people walking around and they do not know their status. We had some young people a few years ago when we took their blood pressure and it was sky high. They had no idea it was that high and, who knows, they could’ve dropped down dead," he underlined.

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