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  • Kidney disease health costs soar: experts

    Author: AAP

Prevention is the key to easing Australia's increasing health burden of kidney disease, say experts.

Australia's health bill for chronic kidney disease will reach $12 billion by 2020, say experts who are calling for urgent preventative action.

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The disease's prevalence has been increasing at an "alarming" rate over the past two decades due to the ageing population and the growing number of people with diabetes, hypertension and obesity.

The focus on chronic kidney disease (CKD) must switch to prevention strategies, writes Professor David Harris, University of Sydney's Associate Dean, in the Medical Journal of Australia.

Co-authored by Dr Titi Chen, Liverpool Hospital advanced nephrology trainee, the article says more than 20,000 people have end-stage kidney disease and 1.7 million adults have indicators of the disease.

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End-stage patients require costly renal replacement therapy, accounting for three per cent of total health expenditure, with much of it being spent on dialysis.

They say the cost of providing treatment to new and existing end-stage patients in Australia from 2009 to 2020 is estimated to reach $12 billion.

"CKD is a silent disease that can remain asymptomatic until it reaches an advanced stage, therefore most people with CKD are unaware they have the condition."

The authors list three challenges for CKD prevention including the low awareness of the disease in the general public and among primary health care professionals.

They also refer to imperfections of the current screening programs, and the increased risks and inequities facing Indigenous Australians with the disease.

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