Follow these eight golden rules this World Kidney Day


We celebrate World Kidney Day on 9 March 2023 and this year's theme is "Kidney health for all". The goal is to highlight kidney health education for everyone, everywhere. If you or a close family member or friend is diagnosed with kidney disease, it can be a challenge for both the patient and those around them. It's important that we understand more about kidney disease and how we can support those who are managing a chronic kidney condition.

What is chronic kidney disease?

Chronic kidney disease occurs when the kidneys function less than expected. The kidneys are vital and responsible for excreting waste products, for electrolyte balance and for the production of certain hormones.

The treatment for chronic kidney disease focuses on slowing down kidney damage. This is usually done by controlling the underlying cause of the disease. Treatment for kidney disease usually includes medicine, regular follow ups and often renal dialysis, as well as lifestyle changes such as changing your diet and exercising regularly.

Chronic kidney disease is everywhere

As many as 1 in 10 adults are affected by chronic kidney disease globally.

In a recent study, the results of 98 studies done in 2018 were examined. It was found that, of the 98 432 individuals studied in Africa, 15.8% had chronic kidney disease stages 1 to 5 while 4.6% were in stages 3 to 5 of chronic kidney disease.

How to live well with kidney disease

For World Kidney Day 2023, The WKD Joint Steering Committee encourages everyone worldwide to not only be aware of what kidney disease is, but to actively know what their own kidney health measures are. To support this cause, we want people to adopt healthy lifestyles and extend kidney education to empower people to achieve the best possible health outcomes.

So, what can you do for your kidneys to make sure you prevent or treat symptoms as early as possible?

8 Golden Rules

The World Kidney Day team of medical experts share the "8 golden rules" to follow to support your kidneys and to reduce the risk of developing kidney disease.

Keep fit, Be active
This can help you to reach or maintain your ideal body weight, reduce your blood pressure and in so doing, manage your risk of developing chronic kidney disease.

Eat a healthy diet
Eat a balanced diet rich in unprocessed, fresh foods found in their most natural state. Reduce your salt intake - the recommended sodium intake is 5-6 grams of salt per day (approximately a teaspoon). This includes the salt already in your foods so avoid adding salt to food. It will be easier to control your salt intake if you prepare the food yourself with fresh ingredients.

Check and control your blood sugar
About half of people who have diabetes do not know they have diabetes. Check your blood sugar level as part of your general health checks, especially important for those who are approaching middle age or older. About half of people who have diabetes develop kidney damage; but this can be prevented if the diabetes is well controlled. Check your kidney function with your doctor through blood and urine tests.

Check and control your blood pressure
High blood pressure can damage your kidneys, especially when associated with other factors like diabetes, high cholesterol and cardiovascular diseases. High blood pressure is often called the "silent disease" as half of people don't know they have it. Monitor your blood pressure through yearly health screenings.

Take appropriate fluid intake
The right level of fluid intake for any individual depends on many factors including exercise, climate, health conditions, pregnancy and breastfeeding. Normally this means 8 cups (approximately 2 liters) of fluid per day for a healthy person in a comfortable climate condition. Your fluid intake may need to be adjusted if you have kidney or heart or liver disease. Consult your doctor on the appropriate amount of fluid intake for your health and be sure to avoid fluids high in sugar.

Don't smoke
Smoking slows the flow of blood to the kidneys. When less blood reaches the kidneys, it can decrease their ability to function normally. Smoking also increases the risk of kidney cancer by about 50%.

Don't take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory/pain-killer pills regularly
Common medicine such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDS)/ pain-killer (e.g. medicine like ibuprofen) can harm the kidneys if taken regularly. If you have kidney disease or decreased kidney function, taking just a few doses can do harm to your kidneys. If in doubt, check with your doctor or pharmacist.

Get your kidney function checked if you have one or more of the 'high risk' factors

  • You have diabetes
  • You have hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • You are overweight or obese
  • You have a family history of kidney disease.

How to register for the Kidney Care programme

When you are first diagnosed with kidney disease, you should apply for cover on the Chronic Illness Benefit (CIB). Your doctor will fill in the application form and send it to us. The Chronic Illness Benefit pays your approved treatments.

If you are a KeyCare member, please refer to the KeyCare Renal Network List to find a suitable healthcare provider to help manage your condition. Your healthcare provider (a nephrologist or specialist physician) must also complete the KeyCare application form for chronic renal dialysis. This form can be found on our Discovery website > Benefits and cover > Most queried benefits > Kidney Disease.

The Kidney Care Programme

We understand that living with chronic kidney disease is a lifelong journey, often made difficult because of the need for regular care, complex medicine, restrictive diets, and many tests and investigations.

The Discovery Health Medical Scheme Kidney Care Programme is designed to make it a bit easier for members on chronic dialysis to manage their condition. The programme is based on international best practice guidelines to make sure you get the best quality of care and quality of life.

You get:

  • A calendar-based blood test schedule that your treating doctor and dialysis provider will need to follow to manage your condition. To get benefits related to these blood tests, you need your doctor to complete a Prescribed Minimum Benefit application form stating the type and frequency of chronic dialysis you need.
  • Yearly reports based on these tests and other important clinical information. We send the reports to you, your dialysis provider and your doctor to help in the management of your condition.
  • An information booklet to help you better understand and manage your condition.

For more information on World Kidney Day 2023, visit the World Kidney Day.

Health checks are quick and simple, but important tests you can do to find out if you have any serious health risks or conditions that need further investigation. Be proactive about your wellbeing and book your health check


Kalantar-Zadeh, K., Li, P. K. T., Tantisattamo, E., Kumaraswami, L., Liakopoulos, V., Lui, S. F., ... & World Kidney Day Steering Committee Kam-Tao Li Philip Kalantar-Zadeh Kamyar Andreoli Sharon Balducci Alessandro Dupuis Sophie Kumaraswami Latha Liakopoulos Vassilios Lui Siu-Fai Saadi Gamal Ulasi Ifeoma. (2021). Living well with kidney disease by patient and care partner empowerment: kidney health for everyone everywhere. Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, 36(2), 197-201.

World Kidney Day Steering Committee. (2021). 8 Golden Rules. Retrieved from:

The Discovery Health Medical Scheme is an independent non-profit entity governed by the Medical Schemes Act, and regulated by the Council for Medical Schemes. It is administered by a separate company, Discovery Health (Pty) Ltd, an authorised financial services provider.

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