The number of patients requiring renal replacement therapies in Brunei are on the rise every year, with diabetes and hypertension the leading causes of the problem.
Consultant Nephrologist at the Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha Hospital Dr Liew Yin Ping shared this yesterday, in conjunction with World Kidney Day which is observed globally today.
The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs that remove excess organic molecules and waste products of metabolism by filtering our blood.
Dr Liew underscored the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and diet to prevent kidney diseases from occuring.
She gave the example of practising a healthy lifestyle which should include 30-minute exercise at least three times a week, giving up smoking, avoiding high-carbohydrate foods, as well as food with high sugar and salt content.
She went on to share that kidney diseases are described as 'silent killers' as patients usually do not show any symptoms during the early stages.
The patients will only start to have symptoms when the kidney function drops to a very serious stage as the toxins start to accumulate, said Dr Liew.
Signs of advancing chronic kidney disease, among others, are swollen ankles, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, decreased appetite and foamy urine.
The Department of Renal Services, Ministry of Health, recorded that as of December 2014, a total of 698 patients were being treated with renal replacement therapies.
Of this number, 606 patients were treated by haemodialysis, 53 patients were under peritoneal dialysis while 39 patients underwent kidney transplantation.
"It is alarming that every year the number of patients on dialysis are increasing, not decreasing," said Dr Liew, adding that it does not only put patients' health at risk but it is also a significant burden on Brunei's healthcare cost.
A Brunei Nephrology Symposium 2015 is slated for April 4-5 to raise awareness of kidney diseases in the Sultanate.
The symposium will feature talks from invited speakers from the United Kingdom, Italy, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong.
The event is expected to see participation from a wide range of healthcare professionals such as renal nurses, renal doctors and general practitioners.
The Health Promotion Unit under the Department of Renal Services will also carry out a number of activities in all four districts of Brunei this year.
The activities will comprise talks and check ups for both blood pressure and diabetes. Posters on kidney diseases and their prevention will also be distributed.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of World Kidney Day.
It carries the theme "Kidney Health for All", said a statement published on the World Kidney Day website.
According to a statement on the website, approximately 10 per cent of the population worldwide are dealing with some form of kidney damage.
Chronic kidney disease, which is predicted to increase by 17 per cent over the next decade, is now recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other organisations as a global public health issue.
The website added that there are a number of key issues and challenges in tackling chronic kidney disease in vulnerable populations such as poor water hygiene, lack of hydration, unhealthy choice of food and beverages, language barriers, education and literacy levels, low income and lack of adequate health insurance.
World Kidney Day is a joint initiative of the International Society of Nephrology (ISN) and the International Federation of Kidney Foundations (IFKF).
The organisers of World Kidney Day are calling on the whole civil society, governments, health professionals and patients to drink to their kidneys and to give a glass of water to their families, friends and co-worker.
"This is a symbolic gesture and a conversation starter to raise awareness about the risks, dangers and burden of kidney diseases and how to prevent and treat it in a simple manner across the globe," said the statement.
World Kidney Day was first observed in 2006 and is celebrated on the second Thursday in March.
The event is to raise awareness of the importance of kidneys to overall health and to reduce the frequency and impact of kidney diseases and its associated health problems worldwide.