COVID-19 and policy changes for kidney disease: the need for a ‘decade of the kidney’

The new article by Prof. Vanholder, EKHA’s President, and Prof. Lameire, former EKHA’s Chairman brings to attention the high burden of COVID-19 for patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), who have a high risk to develop severe COVID-19 symptoms and mortality. The article presents EKHA’s recommendations in CKD care, which were promoted to EU policy-makers through an open letter in September 2020.

Emerging studies demonstrate that patients with CKD have higher mortality rates than patients with other chronic diseases. End-stage kidney disease patients are particularly at risk, with a mortality rate over 20% for dialysis and transplanted patients. Furthermore, many severe COVID-19 patients without a history of kidney disease developed acute kidney injury (AKI), a condition that often leads to CKD.

Kidney care was strongly impacted by disruptions in care as nephrology interventions were classified as non-essential, which reflects the lack of understanding of kidney disease in the wider health community. The EKHA open letter is calling on EU policy makers to enable actions protecting kidney disease patients against the negative consequences of the pandemic in the long-term. These actions are likely to be beneficial across the health sector as they strive to improve patient outcomes, quality of life, and to reduce the health-economic and societal cost of CKD.

In the open letter, EKHA calls for a paradigm shift towards innovation, prevention, home therapy, and transplantation. EKHA thus strongly advocates to make the next decade ‘the decade of the kidney’ by focusing on innovation and improving cure & care for all kidney patients.

Access the full article here.