Disparities in dialysis allocation: An audit from the new South Africa

Kajiru G. Kilonzo , Erika S. W. Jones , Ikechi G. Okpechi , Nicola Wearne , Zunaid Barday , Charles R. Swanepoel , Karen Yeates , Brian L. Rayner
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End Stage Kidney Disease (ESKD) is a public health problem with an enormous economic burden. In resource limited settings management of ESKD is often rationed. Racial and socio-economic inequalities in selecting candidates have been previously documented in South Africa. New guidelines for dialysis developed in the Western Cape have focused on prioritizing treatment. With this in mind we aimed at exploring whether the new guidelines would improve inequalities previously documented. A retrospective study of patients presented to the selection committee was conducted at Groote Schuur Hospital. A total of 564 ESKD patients presented between 1 January 2008 and 31 December 2012 were assessed. Half of the patients came from low socioeconomic areas, and presentation was late with either overt uremia (n = 181, 44·4%) or fluid overload (n = 179, 43·9%). More than half (53·9%) of the patients were not selected for the program. Predictors of non-acceptance onto the program included age above 50 years (OR 0·3, p = 0·001), unemployment (OR 0·3, p<0·001), substance abuse (OR 0·2, p<0·001), diabetes (OR 0·4, p = 0·016) and a poor psychosocial assessment (OR 0·13, p<0·001). Race, gender and marital status were not predictors. The use of new guidelines has not led to an increase in inequalities. In view of the advanced nature of presentation greater efforts need to be made to prevent early kidney disease, to allocate more resources to renal replacement therapy in view of the loss of young and potentially productive life.