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Monday, 17 October 2011 09:56

A message from the ISN President

Welcome to the first in my new series of blog posts. I want to take the chance to regularly share with you some important ISN issues and update you on new developments inside and outside ISN.

And I also thought you would be interested to know how the ISN President keeps busy!

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Non communicable disease at the United Nations

September 20 and 21, 2011 saw the United Nations (UN) High Level Meeting on non communicable diseases (NCDs) take place in New York. This meeting offered great opportunities. It was the first time that NCDs were truly at the top of the global health agenda, and it sparked hope that the political statement which came from that meeting would make real demands on UN Member States to take effective public health action against NCDs.

In April, ISN engaged a public policy advisor, Dan Larson, and we set about trying to ensure the voice of kidney disease was properly heard. But we soon discovered it would not be possible for an ISN representative to be at the New York meeting, and that kidney disease was not even mentioned in the early drafts of the political statement. The WHO and UN intended the focus to be on cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and chronic respiratory disease. Furthermore the prevailing view at WHO was that chronic kidney disease did not really need to be identified as a separate problem, since  dealing with cardiovascular disease and diabetes would deal with all of kidney disease.

Fortunately we were able to mobilise the ISN membership to press our case, and my personal thanks to the many of you who wrote to your health ministers, met them, and pressed them to support the importance of CKD. A number did write to WHO, including the health ministers of United States, China, India, Mexico, and Turkey.  And the final political statement did mention renal disease, see Clause 19. An apparently small but symbolically very important  step forward for us.

At the same time we realised the need to assemble the scientific evidence to support the importance of CKD as an NCD. William Couser, Giuseppe Remuzzi, and Marcello Tonelli (with a co-author from WHO) have produced a superb comprehensive and definitive review of the current evidence, which has just been published by KI on-line and which I am sure you will find an invaluable resource.

Out and about

In September I was fortunate to be at a superb ISN Forefronts meeting on Proteinuria in Aarhus Denmark, organized by Erik Christiansen with Corinne Antignac and Olivier Devuyst. Look out for a report on the meeting in the January edition of ISN News.

I have also spoken recently at three other excellent meetings endorsed by ISN. As always this has given me many good opportunities to talk about ISN, and meet many ISN members, including former ISN Fellows; it is great to see how their careers have moved on since their fellowship.

In August, I was at a seminar on glomerular disease held in the Muljibhai Patel Urological Hospital in Nadiad, Gujarat in western India, organised by Mohan Rajapurkar(who is also a very active member of the ISN India Committee). I was privileged to see the first class nephrology and transplant service he has developed at that non-profit institution.

In September, I was in Brazil at the Paulista Congress, the nephrology meeting for Sao Paolo state (a very large state, so this was a very large meeting). Former ISN Councillors, Manny Burdmann and Nestor Schor, facilitated  an excellent discussion with Brazilian nephrology leaders about how we can work to recruit  the large  proportion of Brazilian nephrologists who have yet to join ISN. And I also had a great planning discussion with Roberto Pecoits-Filho, the energetic new chair of the ISN Young Nephrologists Committee.

And then in mid-October, I returned for the  third time to the BANTAO Congress. There is much to admire in this regional nephrology society, established by Balkan and neighbouring countries in 1991. The BANTAO Congress has continued to be held regularly every two years since then; showing how the camaraderie of science and medicine can stand strong despite the political and military upheaval which fractured the Balkans during that time.

See you in Philadelphia

We are coming up to one of the busiest weeks in the ISN year.  In Philadelphia, during  ASN’s Kidney Week, there will be meetings of every ISN Committee, as well as many informal opportunities to talk over important  ISN plans and challenges.  I look forward to seeing many of you there.

Your views please

As always, do not hesitate to contact me if there are any ISN matters you want to discuss. It is great to have an active and growing ISN membership (you will have seen we have just passed the 10,000 members mark) and I would be pleased to hear from you.

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