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National charity relaunched at Parliament

March 12, 2008

National charity relaunched at Parliament

Kidney Health New Zealand - formerly the New Zealand Kidney Foundation -was officially launched at Parliament today (Wednesday, March 12) by Minister of Health David Cunliffe.

Speaking at a lunch event for MPs in the Beehive's Grand Hall the charity's Medical Director, Professor Kelvin Lynn, explained the decision to rename the organisation which has supported those living with kidney disease since 1979.

"A lot of thought went into this change, and we feel the name Kidney Health New Zealand is one which more accurately reflects the breadth of our concern for kidney health," says Professor Lynn, a Christchurch nephrologist.

"This means a greater emphasis on community education and screening of people at an increased risk of chronic kidney disease. Support of people with serious kidney disease and research into kidney disease both remain key focuses."

Addressing MPs, various community health groups, staff from Wellington Hospital's Renal Unit and a number of patients with kidney disease, Professor Lynn described how, "Prevention is our best chance of coping with this global health problem".

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects one in 10 adults worldwide.

If discovered early enough, CKD is treatable. However, a major barrier preventing early detection is the fact that up to 90% of people with early CKD are unaware they have it.

New Zealanders at most risk of CKD are Maori and Pacific people, those aged over 50, those who smoke, have high blood pressure or diabetes, and those with a family history of kidney disease.

In his address to MPs this afternoon, Professor Lynn asked them to support Kidney Health New Zealand's goals - prevention, support, research - in the following ways:

* Partnership with the Government and Ministry of Health to ensure kidney checks are part of the disease screening in at risk groups.
* Supporting education in schools, communities and health services.
* Supporting kidney transplantation, including help to remove the barriers to living kidney donation through the reimbursement of donor expenses and fair access to necessary investigations and operating theatre time.
* Supporting research into the causes and treatment of CKD.
* Support and encouragement of community-based dialysis.
* Recognising the saving people on home dialysis make to the health budget and ensuring they are compensated for the additional costs they bear in comparison to those on more expensive hospital-based dialysis.

Christchurch Central MP Tim Barnett, who helped launch KHNZ's new look, said: "There are few national headquarters in Christchurch, but those which are there stand out for their dynamism and sharp focus. Kidney Health New Zealand is a great example, and I'm very proud to be its local MP.

"This election year Kidney Health New Zealand has come to Parliament, launching a high profile event with lunch, self-testing kits for MPs, and blood pressure testing for all staff.

"Back in our areas we will be briefed on the research into and the reality of living with kidney disease. It's all a most impressive programme of awareness-raising backed up by hard information."

In addition to launching Kidney Health New Zealand, today's event was a chance to draw attention to World Kidney Day, a global event taking place tomorrow (Thursday, March 13) and set to be marked in more than 60 countries.

Staff from Wellington Hospital's Renal Unit will be in Parliament tomorrow to provide health advice and blood pressure checks to staff.

For more information on Kidney Health New Zealand visit the website


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