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Kidney conscious initiative by Sapiens Foundation

CHENNAI : Salt has been a crucial part of civilisations, from being a system of currency, a source of livelihood at pans, and the deal breaker in our daily meals. Beyond from tantalising our taste buds, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that the salt intake per person be less than five grams or approximately two grams of sodium.

Ahead of World Kidney Day, Sapiens Health Foundation highlighted the link between salt, blood pressure, and kidney diseases, at Raintree Hotel on Tuesday. Kickstarting their Losalter group initiative and website, Dr Rajan Ravichandran, chairman, explained this group aims to boost awareness about salt and health. “We have gotten a grant from Revolve To Save Lives, an international NGO that collaborates with the WHO. We have been asked to train 300 physicians across the country, and they will be educated about salt and health. They will be given tool kits for propagation,” he said.

On this year’s theme ‘Kidney Health for All – Advancing equitable access to care and optimal medication practice’, Dr Rajan pointed out that 10% of the adult population have impairment of kidney function, and 35% suffer from hypertension. He added that preventative healthcare was crucial as dialysis and treatment are pegged at enormous costs. Dr Rajan stressed the importance of early diagnosis, lifestyle changes, and monitoring of sustained blood pressure at home.

According to Dr Umesh Khanna, chairman of the Mumbai Kidney Foundation, “There is a gap in kidney care. There is a possibility of improving kidney care and we need to translate what we know into what we do, which is for general practitioners, governments, nephrologists, and laymen to do. We need to make it equitable to all. Kidney disease is common. We should make people and general practitioners and aware of risk factors and give workable solutions.” He added that kidney disease was the seventh leading risk factor for death globally.

Dr Umesh pointed out the need for optimal, accessible and affordable care, and the importance of obtaining health insurance. Warning against bad food habits and a sedentary lifestyle, he said. “Indians are genetically and culturally prone to develop lifestyle diseases. Today, the youth are now facing the disease; it is spreading from urban to rural and is not only restricted to affluent classes.”

Guest of honour actor Maadhu Balaji shared his experience donating a kidney to his sister-in-law and the importance of preventative healthcare. Chief guest Thirumalachari Ramasami, scientist and former secretary of the Department of Science and Technology, highlighted the dangers of common salt used in leather production in industrial waste. He mentioned the importance of education and a responsible healthcare system: “There are three criteria for equitable care we need — whether there is an availability of care for a disease, whether it is accessible and affordable.

Tips to protect kidneys

  • Reduce salt in the body

  • Exercise for 30 minutes

  • Eat balanced diet

  • Keep weight under control

  • Avoid long-term nonprescription drugs

  • Stop smoking

  • Check BP and blood sugar regularly

  • Check urine for albumin once a year

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