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Advocating for Global Kidney Health Throughout 2020: ISN Advocacy

In February, the ISN was present at the 146th Session of the Executive Board (EB) of the World Health Organization (WHO). The ISN called for recognition of the worldwide burden of kidney disease, asking for urgent measures to ensure that kidney health is fully integrated into national NCD plans. (Statement on Item 146.6; Statement on Item 146.5; Statement on Item 146.22.3; Statement on item 146.7.2).

Later in the year, the ISN participated in the 72nd Session of the Regional Committee of WHO for the Americas and the 71st session of the World Health Organization Regional Committee for the Western Pacific. The ISN delivered two statements describing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on those living with kidney diseases in these regions (71st session Statement; 72nd Session Statement).

In November, the ISN participated in the resumed 73rd World Health Assembly (WHA) organized by the WHO, submitting three statements on preventing and controlling kidney disease and other NCDs; maternal, infant, and young child nutrition; and the WHO’s work in health emergencies. Listen to the recordings and read the full statements.

In the run-up to World Kidney Day (WKD) on March 12, 8 Golden Rules for kidney health were publicized, challenging everyone to look after their kidneys and prevent kidney disease. To celebrate World Kidney Day, the ISN dressed the Manneken Pis fountain in Brussels in WKD colors to raise awareness of kidney health issues and activities. The ISN team explained to onlookers the significance of the costume as it was unveiled. The Head of the Nephrology Department at the Cliniques Universitaires of Saint Luc and long-time ISN member, Professor Michal Jadoul, addressed an audience at Brussels City Hall to highlight simple preventative strategies available to healthcare professionals to identify kidney diseases in patients at an early stage.

In the autumn, WKD announced the 2021 theme, “Kidney health for everyone, everywhere – living well with kidney disease,” and launched tools to start a local campaign in anticipation of World Kidney Day on March 11.

As nations struggled to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, the ISN clearly voiced its support of the WHO. Representing the global kidney health community, the ISN reiterated the need for a global health agency, urging political leaders to focus on providing optimal care to all whose health has been directly or indirectly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In May, the ISN represented the global kidney health community at the virtual 73rd session of the WHO’s World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, where a landmark resolution for solidarity in addressing the pandemic was adopted. Working alongside the NCD Alliance and others, the ISN contributed to the discussions, achieving the inclusion of the NCD’s perspective within the resolution by issuing a joint statement, as well as the official ISN statement.

In July, “Ethical challenges in nephrology: a call for action” by the ASN/ERA-EDTA/ISN Joint Working Group on Ethical Issues in Nephrology was published in Nature Reviews Nephrology. The paper identifies ten broad areas of ethical concern that require collaborative action to address.

The ISN was excited to announce the launch of CORONATION, a new data collection initiative in August. The registry, developed in collaboration with Cambridge University, is designed to collect data from nephrologists worldwide on people with kidney disease and the COVID-19 infection.

In September, the ISN, represented by professor Donal O’Donoghue, Chair of the ISN’s Advocacy Working Group, was invited to present evidence to the UK committee on the science of covid-19 at the Science and Technology Select Committee hearing on the Science of COVID-19 in the House of Lords in the UK. Professor O’Donoghue described the additional challenges that COVID-19 poses for kidney patients and raised the issue of the exclusion of kidney disease patients from clinical trials related to COVID-19.

The ISN was represented by Professor Ifeoma Ulasi, University of Nigeria, ISN Advocacy Working Group member, and Paul Laffin, ISN Advocacy Director, at the WHO Stakeholder Consultation on the Development of the WHO Global Diabetes Compact in October. This was an opportunity to ensure that kidney diseases are included in the Sustainable Development Goals agenda.

In November, the ISN liaised with the European Union (EU) and African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) Group of States representatives to ensure that a forthcoming partnership agreement between these blocs promotes UHC in all ACP countries, particularly regarding optimal health care for patients living with kidney diseases.

The SharE-RR (SHARing Expertise to support the set-up of Renal Registries) workshop was converted to a successful webinar series held in September and October when it was unable to take place at the World Congress of Nephrology 2020 as planned due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

ISN President, Vivekanand Jha, spoke at the online event “Leaving No-one Behind: The Need for a Person-Centred, Inclusive NCD Agenda Confirmation” organized by the NCD Alliance in November, highlighting the importance of including patient views, particularly their lived experience, in planning new policies to tackle NCDs.

The ISN looks forward to moving global kidney health higher up the international health policy agenda in 2021.

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