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Celebrating ISN Collective-Member Societies: The Panamanian Society of Nephrology and Hypertension

Dr. Karen Courville, SPNH president (far left), alongside Dr. Norman Bustamante, SPNH secretary, and staff members at the Dr. Gustavo N. Collado Hospital of the Caja de Seguro Social (CSS) in Chitré, Herrera, on World Kidney Day 2018

The ISN’s series on Collective-Member Societies shifts its focus to the Latin America Region and spotlights the Panamanian Society of Nephrology and Hypertension (SPNH).

We spoke to SPNH President Karen Courville about ongoing local initiatives to raise kidney health awareness in the region.

The SPNH is currently developing strong campaigns to raise awareness of two important pathologies that cause chronic kidney disease: hypertension and diabetes. A series of bi-weekly webinars will be broadcast from October onwards, focusing on the importance of addressing hypertension in various contexts, including in diabetic, CKD, and transplant patients.

The activity, endorsed by the National College of Medicine, will be free for students, primary care physicians, and other healthcare personnel who will receive a certificate of participation on completion. A diabetes awareness-raising campaign designed to assist primary care providers is planned to take place shortly afterward.

In collaboration with the National Social Security System, the SPNH is striving to bridge the gaps of available kidney care in the region through a program to increase nationwide access to hemodialysis units. Work is underway to establish a unit in every major city within each province as well as to improve access to peritoneal dialysis facilities.

The SPNH is involved in a nationwide study, “Safety and Effectiveness of COVID-19 Vaccine in Dialysis Patients,” supported by the National Secretary of Science and Technology (SENACYT). The SPNH recruited 1200 of the 1400 patients currently involved in the study.

In addition, two collaborative studies on chronic kidney disease of unknown origin (CKDu) are underway in partnership with the Toxicology Center and the Medicine Faculty at the University of Panama, the country’s largest medical student center.

The SPNH is also working alongside SENACYT to bring CKDu to the public’s attention through press and social media publications.

Thanks to the organization’s initiatives to move kidney health higher up the local health policy agenda, CKD has been recognized as a notifiable disease in Panama since 2018.

The SPNH joined the ISN as a Collective-Member Society in January 2020.

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