World Kidney Day is a worldwide campaign designed to raise awareness on the importance of kidney health on our overall health. The campaign is about the importance of access to knowledge and information for people with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and their caregivers. 

Professor Ann Bonner, Head of School of the School of Nursing and Midwifery is a member of the steering committee for the peak body on kidney disease. In Australia about 11% of the adult population have CKD and a further 1 in 3 adults are at risk of developing this disease.  Ann is leading the conversation on the importance of recognising patients’ and caregivers’ right to be able to assess, understand and use health information related to CKD and the requirement for healthcare providers and all health organisations to offer information related to CKD according to varying levels of health literacy.

However, the mostly silent nature of kidney disease leads to the complexity of trying to understand what cannot be usually seen or felt and, therefore, not knowing when to take action. Knowing when to act will improve through patient health literacy. This can only occur if healthcare providers communicate and educate effectively in a co-designed partnership with those with kidney disease, rather than viewing health literacy as a patient deficit.

On 10 March 2022, World Kidney Day, the call to action is “Kidney Health for All – Bridge the knowledge gap to better kidney care.” This call to action is for people to be aware of the disease and to seek out actively what kidney health measures, including health literacy, they can personally take.

Agnes Fogo, President of the International Society of Nephrology (ISN) and Siu-Fai Lui, President of the International Federation of Kidney Foundations – World Kidney Alliance (IFKF-WKA), both lead the World Kidney Day (WKD) campaign. They affirm that for World Kidney Day 2022, kidney organisations must prioritise shifting the narrative from a misplaced emphasis on patient-deficit health literacy narrative, to that of also being the responsibility of clinicians, healthcare providers, related healthcare organizations, and health policymakers.

Improving the quality of communication by kidney healthcare providers will better support patients and caregivers.

“Being able to assess, understand, and use health information related to CKD and its treatment is a right for patients and caregivers worldwide,” highlights Professor Kamyar Kalantar-Zadeh, co-chair of WKD Joint Steering Committee for IFKF-WKA, Division of Nephrology and Hypertension and Kidney Transplantation, University of California Irvine, USA.

Moreover, “authentic information that is meaningful to policymakers is critical. There is much to be done to increase understanding of the magnitude of the CKD burden on the community. Without good communication, many good ideas and solutions do not reach communities and countries where they are needed,” explains Professor Robyn Langham, ISN co-chair of the WKD Joint Steering Committee, based at the University of Melbourne in Australia.

Kidney healthcare providers and other health care personnel can play a central role in providing information and education that is both accessible and easy to understand for people with varying levels of health literacy. Social media has the potential to provide an increasingly effective channel of communication for spreading health information and connecting networks.