March is Kidney Health Month, a time to raise awareness of kidney disease.
Kidney disease encompasses a variety of diseases and disorders that affect the kidneys. Most attack the filtering units of the kidneys and damage their ability to eliminate waste and excess fluids.
Diabetes and high blood pressure are the two most common causes of chronic kidney disease. With rising obesity rates and an aging population, the number of people with kidney disease could increase in the years to come. That's why Canadians need to become more aware of how to prevent the onset of this disease.
As Minister of Health, I recognize the importance of healthy lifestyle choices in preventing chronic diseases. I urge Canadians to follow a well-balanced diet that is low in sodium while staying active and maintaining a healthy weight. These are key steps toward the prevention of chronic diseases, including kidney disease.
Of the 37,744 Canadians being treated for end-stage kidney disease in 2009, almost 60% were on dialysis and 800 of these patients were also on the transplant waiting list. The costs are substantial both for the health care system and the patients' quality of life as they undergo dialysis treatment three times per week, often for four hours per session.
You can help by filling out an organ donor card. Of all Canadians waiting for transplants in 2009, over 75% needed a new kidney. Organ and tissue donations are the gift of life and health to those in need.
Research is essential to preventing and managing kidney disease. Over the past four years, the Government of Canada, through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, has funded close to $63.8 million in research related to kidney disease.
The Government has also developed key strategies in the fight against kidney disease, including the Canadian Diabetes Strategy and the Integrated Strategy on Health Living and Chronic Disease.
I would like to thank the Canadian Kidney Foundation for the many activities it undertakes to fight this disease, including funding research. These efforts are working towards improving the lives of Canadians living with kidney disease across our country.
Minister of Health
Government of Canada