Fri, Feb 24, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Record on kidney disease is impressive, if expensive


Taiwan has managed to bring the incidence of end-stage kidney disease under control, and the death rate of local renal dialysis patients is far lower than in many advanced countries, according to a report issued earlier this week by the Taiwan Society of Nephrology.

The report said the nation has 40,000 to 50,000 renal disease patients who must undergo blood dialysis or peritoneal dialysis, which cost more than NT$25 billion (US$768 million) in national health insurance payments each year.

Dialysis procedures are a heavy financial burden for the national health insurance program, but the report noted that dialysis treatment has helped lower the incidence of end-stage renal diseases and the death rate among the recipients of treatment.

The report said that the death rate among those who underwent blood dialysis was 8.15 percent and 6.31 percent in 2002 and 2003 among those who underwent peritoneal dialysis, far lower than an average of 32.17 percent in the US and 15.6 percent in Europe.

In neighboring Hong Kong, the report said, the death rates for blood dialysis and peritoneal dialysis were 14 percent and 11 percent, respectively, both higher than Taiwan.

Nevertheless, the report said Taiwan still had the world's second highest incidence of end-stage renal disease. Nephrology society president Huang Chiu-chin (黃秋錦) attributed the phenomenon to a combination of factors, including the fact that more uremic patients can now live longer by receiving dialysis treatment under the national health insurance program, and an increase in the number of the elderly.

Quoting a US study, Huang said that renal disease patients who died of cardiovascular diseases before receiving dialysis were 16 times greater in number than those who died of kidney disease. In Taiwan, incidence of cardiovascular disease is far lower than in the US and the survival rate among dialysis patients is generally higher.

As a result, Huang said, Taiwan has a relatively higher incidence of end-stage renal diseases.

Huang added that those who want to avoid kidney disease should eat more vegetables, fruit and fish and drink more clean water while eating less fat, less salt and less sugar.

Seventeen patients who have undergone blood or peritoneal dialysis for more than 15 years received awards last Sunday from the society for their courage and perseverance.

Among the award winners was Chen Tien-sheng (陳添勝) who has received regular dialysis treatment for 21 years.

Chen, who lost his sight because of improper treatment of kidney disease in the initial stage, now operates a massage workshop.

He said he drew much inspiration from years of enduring pain and various uncomfortable medical treatment.

"I strive to maintain my health by regular exercise and study of Buddhist scriptures," Chen said.

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