The prevalence of chronic kidney disease is on the rise both
in South Africa and the rest of the continent with international studies
showing that cases of the disease are three to four times more frequent in
Africa than the developed world.
However, regular screening and comprehensive medical cover
can mitigate the impact the disease may have on someone’s life.
Ahead of World Kidney Day on Thursday 14 March 2013, Dr
Dominique Stott, executive at PPS Insurance, says that while medical schemes
are required by law to cover the diagnosis, medical management and medication
of chronic renal failure, as part of the chronic disease list, the extent to
which they do so is dependent on the option or plan the patient has chosen.
High risk patients should
ensure medical cover
“It is important for anybody who is at a high risk of
developing kidney disease to ensure that they are comprehensively covered for
all treatment and any associated costs.
It is recommended for these individuals to also take out a
dread disease benefit which will pay a lump sum at a specific stage of the
chronic kidney disease to help pay for additional expenses, which can be
Stott says that it is essential for those who are deemed
most likely at risk, such as those with hypertension or diabetes or those with
a family history of related diseases, to get screened. “Generally speaking,
chronic kidney disease progresses over many years and there is no cure.
Early detection and
treatment prevents further damage
However, if the
disease is detected early and the patient is given the proper treatment, it is
possible to prevent further damage to the kidneys or at least slow down the
She says that chronic kidney disease is most commonly
brought on by other diseases such as hypertension and diabetes mellitus.
“Hypertension and diabetes may be referred to as “silent diseases”,
where the patient may not feel any particular symptoms until the disease has
reached an advanced stage and the kidney function has already been
People should look at
their family history
“While people should take note of their family history and
other risk factors, it is also important to note that kidney failure in the
black population is actually four times higher than any other population group,
due to the high incidence of hypertension within this group. Therefore, close monitoring of hypertensive
patients is important.”
In a six year study of patients with chronic kidney diseases
by the SADTR, hypertension was the cause of chronic kidney failure in 4.3% of
Whites, 34.6% of Blacks, 20.9% of Coloureds and 13.8% of Indians.
She says that hypertension currently affects about 25% of
the adult population and is the cause of chronic kidney failure in 21% of
patients in renal replacement therapy (both dialysis and transplant) in the SA
“By controlling hypertension and diabetes, the rate of
progression of kidney disease can be slowed down. This means that taking the
medication prescribed for the conditions and not ignoring the long-term
implications of poor disease control.”