Kidney Disease

One issue that is of concern for Aboriginal people is the higher rate than average of kidney disease in the population. However if the government is to close the gap in such health issues, there needs to be evidence based research into the causes and possible mitigation.

Factors leading to kidney disease

In  a quote from

“The reasons for these high rates are complex and likely due to several factors, including increased susceptibility to kidney damage, higher rates of diabetes and obesity, being born prematurely with small kidneys, constant infections, high blood pressure, poor access to good food, substandard housing or limited education [12, 13].”
[12] ‘Kidney disease hits harder in the bush’, The Tracker 17/10/2013
[13] ‘Patrick Tjungurrayi: Bringing the gift of better health’, The Australian 16/4/2015

Kidney disease is linked to later onset of diabetes, and this has been shown to be much higher in indigenous communities around the world.

Quoted from here:

Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus is a complex disease that afflicts people from all ethnic backgrounds. However, it is now common in American Indian populations, and the Pima Indians of Arizona have the world’s highest prevalence

An interesting summary of the data on from Kidney Health is given here. The original Indigenous data from the Department of Statistics  show that Kidney disease is correlated (and maybe related) to other issues such as stress. The comment  here shows that kidney disease, diabetes and heart disease are the main concerns for Aboriginal health, so it is important to deal with this issue.

The Kidney Health Australia site provides a repository of reports on the issue

Key finding 2004-5 is 2% with kidney disease and 6% diabetes and 2012-3 put kidney disease at 1.8% of population and 8% with diabetes. More related statistics around smoking, diet, education and employment are here. Indigenous researcher stress that in discussing specific issues for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people we need to consider the whole picture, which includes social issues that lead to difficulties in adherence to health plans, for instance the lack of dialysis facilities near many communities where people live.

The figures show some reduction in kidney disease over time which may be the result of better understanding, while the increase in diabetes may be the result of reporting – note this links also to the issue of Aboriginal people identifying as such in surveys.

However the prevalence of other stress factors see here  and here show much greater stress levels amongst Aboriginal people. This suggests it may not be sufficient to look at individual illnesses in isolation.

Also closing the gap report gives further data



The Federal and State governments should take a new approach to Closing the Gap in indigenous health for kidney disease

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