First Nations kidney disease screening project launches

Project aims to prevent need for dialysis

Dialysis patient Derwin Daniels talks about the importance of the in-community screening program during a press conference today
Dialysis patient Derwin Daniels talks about the importance of the in-community screening program during a press conference today.
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Learn more about the FINISHED project

Winnipeg Health Region
Published Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Some First Nations residents will soon be able to get renal screening in their own communities under a new program that aims to reduce high rates of kidney failure among Aboriginal people in Manitoba.

The First Nations Community Based Screening to Improve Kidney Health and Prevent Dialysis, also known as FINISHED, was unveiled during a press conference today.

The $1.6 million project was developed by the Winnipeg Health Region's Manitoba Renal Program in partnership with the Diabetes Integration Project. It is funded through Health Canada's Health Services Integration Fund. 

Manitoba has some of the highest rates of kidney disease in Canada. The disease is often caused by diabetes, with Aboriginal people three times more likely to seek dialysis treatment for kidney failure to stay alive. 

Dr. Mauro Verrelli, Medical Director with Manitoba Renal Program, says the in-community screening program can help reduce rates of kidney failure as well as the number of people who require dialysis. As he explains, if the disease is diagnosed in the early stages, medication and lifestyle changes can be used to help avoid further damage to the kidneys.   

"We want to prevent people from needing dialysis," says Verrelli. "The earlier we can diagnose kidney disease, the better the outcome is for the individual."

When discovered in later stages or when it has become End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), options for treatment become limited and renal replacement therapies such as dialysis or transplant are needed. Only about 50 per cent of Manitobans with advanced kidney disease who start dialysis live longer than five years.

Under the project, health-care workers will visit communities in the West Region and Island Lake First Nation communities. The screening teams will start in Rolling River First Nation in March and visit several other communities until March of 2015.

"We hope to demonstrate that this type of screening is sustainable and beneficial for both the individuals and the health-care system," says Dr. Paul Komenda, a nephrologist with Manitoba Renal Program who is co-leading the FINISHED project. "Earlier diagnosis can increase treatment options and quality of life, while reduced use of dialysis can be a huge cost-saving to the health region."

The FINISHED project will be using Diabetes Integration Project's existing model-of-care to deliver screening clinics in the communities. DIP currently provides mobile diabetes screening in First Nations communities through First Nations Inuit Health Branch's Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative.

"We engage the community and work with them when planning and implementing the screening clinics," says Caroline Chartrand, Executive Director of Diabetes Integration Project. "FINISHED is about creating partnerships to provide better access to care and treatment and carrying through with that integrated approach in all aspects of the project."

Screening information can also be received by calling Diabetes Integration Project at 204-956-7174 or 1-855-333-9320 or by talking to your local health centre or nursing station.

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Traditional Territories Acknowledgement
The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority acknowledges that it provides health services in facilities located in Treaty One and Treaty Five territories, the homelands of the Métis Nation and the original lands of the Inuit people. The WRHA respects and acknowledges harms and mistakes, and we dedicate ourselves to collaborate in partnership with First Nation, Métis and Inuit people in the spirit of reconciliation.
Click here to read more about the WRHA's efforts towards reconciliation

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