Valerie Vili supports World Kidney Day
Media Release – March 10, 2008
Valerie Vili throws her support behind World Kidney Day
World Champion Valerie Vili has taken time out from her hectic pre-Olympic schedule to give her support to a major event to raise awareness of kidney disease in New Zealand.
The third World Kidney Day takes place on Thursday (March 13) and will be marked in more than 60 countries, including New Zealand where events are being led by Kidney Health New Zealand (formerly the New Zealand Kidney Foundation).
The event aims to highlight the message that chronic kidney disease (CKD) is common (with around one in 10 adults have signs of it), harmful and treatable.
Valerie has agreed to become an ambassador for Kidney Health New Zealand, and will use her high profile to help the organisation after the Beijing Olympics.
“The facts and figures around kidney disease are shocking, and it’s a problem on the increase,” says Valerie, 23, who today (NZ time) added the World Indoor title to her list of triumphs. Her winning throw of 20.19m was 45 cm ahead of her nearest rival and is an Oceania and New Zealand Indoor record.
“I’m sure a lot of people would be surprised to hear that one in 10 adults have signs of kidney disease. The really scary thing is that the vast majority are often unaware of it and don’t find out until the condition has reached a far more advanced stage, and treatment options are limited.”
In New Zealand about 2000 people are on dialysis and the number is growing every year. About 1200 are alive with a kidney transplant, and at any one time around 350 Kiwis are on the waiting list for a kidney transplant.
“One of the key aims of World Kidney Day is to educate people about who is at risk from kidney disease. Although it can affect anyone, there are groups which are at greater risk,” says Valerie, this year’s Supreme Halberg Award winner.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is closely linked with diabetes and high blood pressure and is more common in Maori and Pacific people.
”As a Pacific Islander this concerns me greatly, and I just hope that by adding my voice it helps get the message across where it’s most needed.
“Being involved in sport to such a high level means pushing myself all the time, and it has made me more aware of my body and I have more respect for my health than ever. It’s something you should never take for granted,” says Valerie.
There is a lot that can be done to treat CKD in its early stages but most people with early CKD do not know that they have a kidney problem as they may not get symptoms until the disease has progressed.
“We are missing opportunities to help people early and prevent them from ending up on dialysis or needing transplants.
“This event is all about giving those at risk the knowledge to empower them to do something proactive, something which could potentially save their lives,” says Valerie, who is due to compete for the first time at the World Indoor Championships in Valencia next month (March).
Two simple and inexpensive tests are available which can detect CKD, but developing a whole-population screening programme would be hugely expensive and unlikely to prove cost-effective.
One of the aims of World Kidney Day, a joint initiative between the International Federation of Kidney Foundations (IFKF) and the International Society of Nephrology (ISN), is to promote a targeted screening programme, aimed at those most at risk.
In addition to indigenous populations, studies have shown that the other people at an increased risk of CKD are those aged over 50, those who smoke, have high blood pressure or diabetes, and those with a family history of kidney disease.
”We are delighted Valerie has chosen to give her support to this event, and really highlight what a major issue kidney disease is throughout New Zealand,” says Professor Kelvin Lynn, Medical Director of Kidney Health New Zealand.