Confronting the growing burden of kidney disease: the sub-Saharan landscape
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This report seeks to describe the status of kidney disease and renal replacement therapy in lower-resource settings, particularly sub-Saharan Africa. Acute kidney injury and transplantation are included on a limited basis because it is impossible consider the renal replacement therapy landscape at the exclusion of either. As in the rest of the developing world, chronic kidney disease and end-stage renal disease place a sizable and rapidly growing burden on sub-Saharan Africa, and Africans face a double-burden of disease from communicable and non-communicable diseases. Meanwhile, renal replacement therapy and the subspecialty of nephrology are expanding in sub-Saharan Africa, from non-existence in many countries to a limited, tentative subsistence, largely with the support of international organizations and the dedication of local nephrologists. Hemodialysis is the most common form of renal replacement therapy in sub-Saharan Africa, but peritoneal dialysis services, particularly for acute kidney injury, are growing and renal transplants are performed in a few sub-Saharan countries. Nonetheless, in the majority of sub-Saharan Africa, maintenance dialysis is still only available to the wealthy urban few. Although peritoneal dialysis may seem more feasible in the developing world than hemodialysis for multiple reasons, it is still fraught with challenges that make widespread implementation presently unadvisable. As renal replacement therapy is costly and currently unaffordable on a large scale for most of these countries, emphasis must be on identifying at-risk populations through screening and low-cost treatment or management of risk factors to mitigate chronic kidney disease.