Kidney disease and risk factors such as diabetes and hypertension are common in Indigenous communities, and these conditions often lead to adverse health consequences such as kidney failure (requiring dialysis or transplant), heart attacks and strokes. Efforts at improving access to and quality of care for patients living with kidney disease and promoting wellness in those communities are being made. There remains significant gaps with early risk identification and application of optimal care strategies to minimize risk of adverse health outcomes.
The Kidney Check project aims to improve early CKD risk identification, and support people in rural and remote Indigenous communities with access to recommended care within their communities. We know that with early identification and optimal care, we can delay the onset of kidney failure. The program was originally designed and implemented in Manitoba First Nations, in close collaboration with Indigenous partners, and has since been implemented more broadly in other Indigenous communities across Canada. Importantly, the program allows each Nation to implement the program in a way that suits the unique, values needs and cultures of its people. An interim evaluation of Kidney Check shows the program can lead to an increased rate of laboratory testing and referrals for specialist kidney care, enhances community engagement and team building, and raise awareness about kidney disease in Indigenous communities.
As the program continues to be rolled out, the Kidney Check team is also investigating ways to implement the program within the existing provincial health care systems and utilize the existing health care providers within communities to further mobilize knowledge. As well, data will be collected to better understand Indigenous peoples’ lived experiences with kidney disease, which can be used to provide tailored health care to these individuals. Collectively, these efforts aim to offer earlier, better and more appropriate care to Indigenous people living with kidney disease, and improved health outcomes.