The Hon. Hazel Brandy-Williams, Mmnister responsible for health in the premier’s ministry
The Hon. Hazel Brandy-Williams, Minister responsible for health in the premier’s ministry

Minister Brandy-Williams addresses observance of World Kidney Day on Nevis

From the NIA

CHARLESTOWN, Nevis – The following is an address by Hon. Hazel Brandy-Williams, minister responsible for health in the premier’s ministry, for the observance of World Kidney Day March 8:

World Kidney Day will be observed on March 8. This year, the theme chosen for the campaign is “Kidneys and Women’s Health: Include, Value, Empower.” This theme calls on us to reflect on the 195 million women worldwide who are living with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), as well as the 600,000 women who die annually.

In St. Kitts and Nevis, CKD is not one of the leading causes of illness and death, however, noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and some cancers represent our greatest burden of disease, accounting for [more than] 80 percent of deaths per year. These are indeed risk factors for chronic kidney disease in both men and women, but because over 70 percent of diabetic and hypertensive individuals are female, particular attention must be placed on this segment of our population.

As we commemorate World Kidney Day March 8, we also commemorate International Women’s Day. These campaigns highlight the issues of health and gender, which are also two priorities of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

As minister of health and gender affairs, I pledge my government’s commitment to ensure the promotion of healthy lives and well-being as enshrined in SDG #3, as well as to ensure that gender equality will be attained as outlined in SDG #5. As such, my government will address the barriers that contribute to the higher prevalence of CKD in women versus their male counterparts, at 14 percent and 12 percent respectively.

The Ministry of Health continues to demonstrate a commitment to the greater awareness of CKD, as well as ensuring access to treatment. Our existing heath education programme on no-communicable diseases, including CKD, has been expanded as the result of a three-year project with the government of China (Taiwan,) which, to date, has resulted in the training of more than 50 physicians, nurses and other health care workers in Nevis alone. In 2018, this programme will also be expanded into primary schools, with the existing school health programme addressing the issue of CKD and its risk factors in more detail, with additional focus placed on healthy diet and exercise.

Access to end-stage renal care through hemo-dialysis services will soon be a reality in Nevis as we expand the Alexandra Hospital to include a Dialysis Unit with adequate water treatment capabilities. This will ensure physical access on island to the three patients from Nevis who are currently on hemo-dialysis, some of whom are women.

On Friday, Feb. 23, the federation launched the Universal Health Insurance initiative, which will ensure access to health care for all in the population, including those with pre-existing conditions, including CKD.

[During] the next several months, we will discuss this initiative further through various consultations as we work toward ensuring that no one is left behind and cannot access care due to inability to pay.

Timely diagnosis of diseases [that] can also contribute to CKD will also be addressed through increased health promotion initiatives, including at antenatal clinics, as pregnancy related complications such as preeclampsia, which includes the development of high blood pressure, can lead to acute kidney injury and progress to chronic kidney disease over time. Of equal significance is the impact that CKD can have on fertility, decreasing it significantly, as well as contributing to other poor-related pregnancy outcomes such as premature births. These negative impacts are related to sexual and reproductive health, which is also an area that will receive heightened attention as a target for SDG#5.

My government’s commitment to include chronic kidney disease as a priority [during] the next several years has demonstrated the value that we place on the lives of our citizens and residents, including our women. We will empower our populace through education and access to health services and treatment.

And so, I challenge you, the citizens and residents of the federation, to take advantage of the information that you will receive at our schools, workplaces and in our communities, so that we can reduce the impact that chronic kidney disease has not only on our nation’s health, but its development.

Let us all be proactive in the fight against chronic kidney disease.

Thank you.