Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is common and harmful: 1 out of 10 adult people worldwide suffer from CKD. Awareness about kidney health continues to be low in India. “Ask a simple question, ‘what precautions should a person with a single kidney take’, most people would blink. Low awareness is the key driver behind increasing incidences of kidney-related mortality rate,” asserts 63 years old renowned nephrologist Dr. Sanjay Pandya from Rajkot, in Gujarat.
Dr. Sanjay Pandya, Renowned Nephrologist
Dr. Pandya, in fact, had been working relentlessly for about two decades to create global awareness on kidney health. To be precise, it was 15 years back he realized that kidney health needed greater awareness since many of his patients had immense difficulty in understanding the condition. This realization prompted him to write the book – Save Your Kidneys – in Gujarati, his native tongue. The 200-page book serves as a single source of resources for anything, and everything related to kidneys.
The book became so popular Dr. Pandya followed it up with a Hindi version for the benefit of a wider audience. “The Hindi version too was well-received, but availability in majority part of the country was a major constrain,” he informs. He realized that awareness about kidney health is low, and India requires 2 lakh kidneys a year while only 6,000 kidneys are available for transplantation.
To solve this problem effectively and to provide the benefit of this resource not only in India but across the world, he created a website and provided free access to kidney books in Hindi and Gujarati languages. With 10 lakh hits in just 10 weeks, the digital platform helped to achieve a goal to create widespread awareness.
After the successful launching of the website in two languages, the doctor could have chosen to relax. But he did not do so since he realized that awareness about kidney health is a local as well as a global problem. It is estimated that around 1.7 million people die annually due to acute kidney injury (AKI) globally. “So, I decided that my work should not be confined to India since global awareness can result in the prevention, early detection, appropriate medical intervention, and an extended normal life to millions of people
That saw the birth of Kidney Education Foundation, a philanthropic organization that disseminates authentic, evidence-based information on kidney health through its portal KidneyEducation.com educating masses on kidney health. It was during this phase Dr. Tushar Vacharajani, a Cleveland- USA-based nephrologist joined the project as an international liaison officer. Dr. Pandya and Dr. Vacharajani appealed to other nephrologists in India and around the globe to join the cause.
By virtue of concerted efforts, the two doctors over a period of 12 years built a strong team of 100-plus nephrologists from across the world. “The idea was to make information available in as many languages as possible,” informs Dr. Pandya. KidneyEducation.com today disseminates priceless information in 40 languages including French, Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, German, and Japanese. The hard work put in did not go in vain as KidneyEducation.com has become the most visited website today on kidney health. The platform has registered over 10-crore hits and over 5 lakh downloads. The educational resources can also be accessed through WhatsApp.
The website also received endorsement and appreciation from more than 15 leading global kidney organizations including the American Society of Nephrology, World Kidney Day, European Renal Association, International Federation of Kidney Foundation, Society of Latin America Nephrology, and Hypertension, and other Eminent Kidney organizations of the World. American Society of Nephrology published a story about the Kidney Education website in their weekly magazine “Kidney News“. European Renal Association prepared the website for kidney patients and their list of kidney resources starts with the Kidney Education website!!!
So, what is Dr. Pandya’s message on World Kidney Day? “Speak to people in the language they understand. That is the best way to ensure kidney health. If you do it from the bottom of your heart, there can be no language barrier. That is my experience,” Dr. Pandya says. The disease may not be curable in the case of many patients. “But with early diagnosis and proper medical care, it is now possible to lead a quality life for a pretty long period. But awareness is the key sutra,” the nephrologist reminds, with a smile.