New report highlights the burden of chronic kidney disease for Indigenous Australians

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a serious and common health problem among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Chronic kidney disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 2011, presents, for the first time, detailed analysis of CKD in Indigenous Australians.

‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, especially those who live in remote communities, have much higher rates of CKD,’ said AIHW spokesperson Lynelle Moon.

Indigenous Australians also have higher rates of end-stage kidney disease (ESKD), the most severe stage of chronic kidney disease, at which point kidney function has deteriorated to the degree that dialysis or transplant are required to survive.

Among those treated for ESKD in the 2007 to 2008 period, almost 10% of new cases were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, despite only making up 2.5% of the total Australian population.

‘If Indigenous Australians had the same incidence rate of treated ESKD as non-Indigenous Australians, 9 out of 10 cases would have been avoided,’ Dr Moon said.

Just 12% of Indigenous Australians with treated ESKD have a functioning kidney transplant, compared with 45% of their non-Indigenous counterparts.

Indigenous Australians with treated ESKD are therefore more likely to be on dialysis, even though kidney transplant is the preferred treatment option.

Compared with Indigenous Australians living in other areas, those in remote and very remote areas were far more likely to have treated ESKD.

This is reflected in the higher hospitalisation rates for regular dialysis among Indigenous Australians, which ranged from 6 times as high as for other Australians in major cities, to 84 times as high for those living in remote areas.

‘Overall, 12% of hospital admitted patient expenditure on CKD was for Indigenous Australians, with the majority of this being spent on dialysis treatment,’ Dr Moon said.

This report also shows that Indigenous Australians are 4 times as likely to die with CKD as non-Indigenous Australians.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.


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