Wednesday 24 September 2014

A bus on the road to save kidneys

NKF bus to offer free health checks, raise awareness amid rise in kidney failure cases
By Adrian Lim, The Straits Times, 22 Sep 2014

WITH four new cases of kidney failure diagnosed every day in Singapore, the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) launched an educational bus yesterday which will take to the road to raise awareness about prevention.

It will tour schools, community centres and religious organisations over the next year, in a bid to reach out to 50,000 people.

On board the bus, visitors can learn about the importance of kidneys, what causes them to fail, as well as the treatment options, through interactive touchscreen games and videos.

Free health screenings will also be offered. Besides measuring cholesterol and blood glucose levels, the screenings will include a serum creatinine test to indicate the health of a person's kidneys.

The number of kidney failure cases diagnosed each day here has risen by a third since 2010. According to the United States Renal Data System, Singapore had the world's fifth highest rate of kidney failure in 2012, behind Mexico, the US, Taiwan and Japan.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said yesterday that the foundation must go beyond providing blood dialysis treatments to raising community awareness and getting people to eat and live in a healthier manner. The foundation must also look into ways to provide more support for peritoneal dialysis -a home-based treatment in which the body's abdominal lining is used as a filter - and promote kidney transplant as another treatment option.

Speaking at an NKF outreach event held at ITE College East, Mr Gan said diabetes and hypertension are the two leading causes of kidney failure here.

Next year, NKF plans to launch a second educational bus that will focus on diabetes and also offer health screenings. NKF chief executive Edmund Kwok said the foundation must provide more public education. He said more awareness is needed to encourage people to donate their kidneys, and that it is "not an easy road" for them to take.

Between 2010 and 2012, there were just 179 kidney transplants, down from 225 between 2007 and 2009.

He added: "People will step forward when they see the need, and if they are suitably informed... With today's modern technology, it is actually quite safe to do a kidney transplant."

To find out more about where the NKF bus will travel to, call the foundation on 6299-0200.

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