Improvements in Treatment Access are Helping Indigenous Chronic Kidney Disease Patients, but More Changes are Needed

According to a story from abc.net.au, the local health services from northwest Queensland, Australia have recently been tasked with managing dialysis treatment centers in the region. This has improved access to treatment and has allowed chronic kidney disease patients to receive dialysis from a location where they can still visit with their families. In the past, limited resources made this much more difficult. Many of the chronic kidney disease patients treated at these hospitals are of indigenous background. Aboriginal people in the region have a 30 percent greater risk of developing chronic kidney disease.

About Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

Chronic kidney disease is an illness in which the functionality of the kidneys is affected over time. This progressive disease can occur over a period of months or years and often results in eventual kidney failure. This disease often causes no symptoms at first. There are a number of risk factors for chronic kidney disease, such as diabetes, glomerulonephritis, family history, and high blood pressure. The cause is not known in all cases. As the disease progresses, symptoms such as leg swelling, confusion, fatigue, vomiting, loss of appetite, heart disease, bone disease, anemia, and high blood pressure may appear. Treatment may include dietary changes, certain medications, and, in later stages, dialysis or kidney transplant. The most common cause of death for people with chronic kidney disease is cardiovascular disease, which may appear before the kidneys completely shut down. To learn more about chronic kidney disease, click here.

Chronic Kidney Disease: A Major Problem in Queensland

Often times, chronic kidney disease can make other health problems that appear much more difficult to handle. This is a major cause of death for patients in the Queensland region. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are four times more likely to die from complications related to chronic kidney disease. 

These patients are forced to relocate once their disease begins to shut down the kidneys and dialysis or a transplant is needed for survival. This necessity can cause significant upheaval for their families and communities. The Mount Isa Hospital will play a critical role in dialysis access in Queensland.

Ms. Belinda Johnson, who is of Aboriginal descent and works at the hospital, has played a vital role in helping to communicate effectively with the indigenous communities in the area and bridge cultural differences. She says that more services are needed, such as a dialysis bus that could get even closer to the homes of patients. Perhaps, as the North West Hospital and Health Service continues to improve its services, such buses could be available in the future.


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