Friday March 10, was World Kidney
Day – a good time to offer a few words about kidney health in particular and
public health in general, always a critical subject and one which determines
the well-being of the people of the Cayman Islands.
It is impossible to say too much
about the importance of self-awareness and of taking personal responsibility
for your own health — and that of your family. This year’s slogan for World
Kidney Day is “Protect Your Kidneys, Save Your Heart”. The connection is no
Perhaps the best place to start is
to observe that Cayman has a high incidence of kidney disease. That should not,
however, come as a surprise when you consider the high incidence of diabetes we
have, and you can draw a straight line from that to larger implications for
high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, smoking and other circulatory and
respiratory problems – even to diets lacking in fruit and vegetables.
Heart health and kidney health are
closely interlinked. High blood pressure is the most common cause of kidney
damage, especially when associated with other factors like diabetes, high
cholesterol and cardiovascular disease.
If you have kidney disease, your
risk of heart disease and premature death is three times higher than those who
do not. When your kidneys don’t work properly, waste products accumulate and
affect how your heart and blood vessels work. Kidney dysfunction increases the
risk of cardiovascular disease, and can lead to a heart attack or stroke and a
progressive loss in renal function over a period of months or years.
The strain on the public purse of
these chronic conditions is significant, and not just in terms of meeting
budgets and providing finance for hospital equipment, staff and treatment, but
also in terms of lost production, lost working hours, in both the public and
I strongly encourage all of us to
come together and to keep in mind the wider effects of World Kidney Day for our
Representatives of the Diabetes
Association will attend the free screenings in the foyer of the George Town
Hospital on Thursday between 11am and 1:30pm. They will be there to answer
questions, to recommend cautionary efforts and preventive measures, and even
treatment options should the screenings indicate a need.
Please, get tested on Thursday.
Bring the family. Make it an act of support for the nation’s well-being.
If you cannot make it on Thursday,
make an appointment to get tested, whether at the hospital, your District
Health Centre or your private physician. It is important you have this
discussion, and the test is simple and painless.
Make sure your child’s school takes
the free tour of the dialysis ward at the George Town Hospital.
Make sure you obtain, read and
understand the flyers being distributed island-wide describing preventative
measures and early detection.
Finally, let me draw attention to
the management and staff of the Health Services Authority, who are devoting a
lot of important time and effort to World Kidney Day. The numerous public
activities – from free screening to school tours of the dialysis unit to an evening
lecture programme – are part of efforts to bring home to people the importance
of kidney care and some of the things that individuals might do to promote,
preserve and protect their own well-being.
Those efforts are being supported
by Rotary Central and by the Diabetes Association.
The Health Services Authority,
Rotary Central and the Diabetes Association are valuable partners in our World
Kidney Day efforts and we sincerely thank everyone involved for their
support. Now it’s up to all of us to do
Minister of Health Mark Scotland