There is panic amongst patients with kidney disease, including those who have received a kidney transplant as they are at a much higher risk of death due to COVID-19, emphasises Dr Sanjeev Gulati, Director – Nephrology and Kidney Transplant, Fortis Hospital in a conversation with Akanki Sharma; while also informing about “Know Corona to Fight Corona” online resource to help kidney patients across the world
What does the online educational resource on coronavirus and kidney disease to combat COVID-19 include?
Out of every 100 people, 10-15 have some degree of kidney disease. Data from Italy, Spain and the USA say that they are at 2.5 times higher risks of death than the general population. Prevention is the only answer to coronavirus infection and since it is a global problem, it requires action at a global level. This resource provides simple tips specific to kidney disease patients so that they can take adequate preventive measures.
Tell us about its functioning.
It is a free online resource and the information can be downloaded from KidneyEducation.com any time and anywhere in the world. “Know Corona to Defeat Corona” provides information about coronavirus for kidney patients in 20 Indian and international languages on Kidney Education website that was launched by Dr Vivekanand Jha, President, International Society of Nephrology. The information will be reviewed and updated once a month. There is a team of 20 doctors from India as well as overseas, who have contributed their expertise in developing this.
Why did you choose kidney disease only, there are other diseases like cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, etc. – what about people dealing with these?
Kidney disease is more common in the general population than we realise, and data shows that about 15-20 per cent of people will have kidney disease. This subgroup is at 2.5-times higher risk of death than the general population. Since we are a group of kidneys specialists, we have focused on kidney patients.
When and how did you think of coming up with this? In what ways is it going to be beneficial to the world in the current COVID-19-hit scenario?
Since I am a member of the COVID-19 task force of the Indian Society of Nephrology; while we were trying to educate the doctors about different aspects of coronavirus and kidneys, I realised that unless we educate the kidney patients or their attendants, our efforts will not succeed.
I have extensively researched information available on the risks of coronavirus for kidney patients and presented it in a simple and easily understandable manner in collaboration with my fellow doctors from India as well as from all over the world.
What are the general “lack of knowledge” signs about coronavirus that are being witnessed amongst people in India? How will your online resource help combat it?
There is panic in patients with kidney disease, including those who have received a kidney transplant as they are at a much higher risk of death. There is no dedicated source of reliable information for these patients. There is rapid escalation and global spread of the coronavirus outbreak. There is no vaccine or treatment to prevent COVID-19; prevention is the best possible answer. Prevention is not better than cure but prevention is the only cure here. The only way to prevent it is to empower people not only in India, but all over the world in their native tongue with knowledge and self-learning as knowledge is the true power. So, unless we empower people, no amount of preaching or lockdown will succeed.
Since this resource is free of cost for people, how are you managing the cost incurred for implementing it?
We are self-funding and contributing voluntarily as a service to patients of kidney disease all over the world. Not a single rupee or any sponsorship has been taken from pharmaceutical companies.
Have you tied up with the Central Government or any of the state governments or the governments of other countries for increasing its reach among people?
We have just launched it and we look forward to create greater awareness through media so that it can reach every patient with kidney disease not only in India, but all over the world. This has received recognition from The International Society of Nephrology as well as the American Society of Nephrology. We are approaching the Nephrology Societies of different countries. Due to red tapes and possible delay, we have not approached Central and State governments yet.
Till when is it going to work, any specific target? Further, any plans to add more languages to it?
It has already been launched on World Health Day in 12 languages — English, Hindi, Bengali, Arabic, French, Vietnamese, Serbian, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Punjabi; and is available currently in 20 languages. Work is going on in another 10 languages worldwide. Eventually, it will be available in all the 37 languages in which the book ‘Save Your Kidney’ is available on Kidney Education website and it will work till the time it is required.