Kidney disease research critical for Samoa

Research into kidney diseases is key in developing policies to enable Samoa to tackle diseases such as kidney failure.

This is the view of Clinical Director of National Kidney Foundation (N.K.F.), Leituala Dr. Ben Matalavea and the Vice-Chancellor for the Samoa Oceania University of Medicine (O.U.M.), Toleafoa Dr. Viali Lameko who attended the 5th Nephrology Symposium in Fiji last week.

The conference covered a wide range of topics with a stronger emphasis on research, scientific writing, multidisciplinary team approach to patient care, patient centered care, and advocacy for kidney health.

Discussions at the conference revolved around the theme ‘Advancing Kidney Health through Research and Collaboration’.

Leituala said that evidence-based research can enable them to identify the problem and then present their findings to the Government, which would highlight the problem and recommend policies that can be formulated to tackle the challenges. 

“We have an ongoing research conducted by a specialist from Otago University during a PHD on finding out the prevalence of chronic kidney disease in Samoa and it will be carried out for three years with this year being the first,” he said.

“When Government sets policy and the people follows then we will get somewhere to write a good policy. 

“We cannot implement policies from overseas countries like New Zealand because we need to find out within our own communities so we can address it in our own way because of what is currently available.

“We have had 14,000 people get checked for kidney diseases but the data will not be used if it does not follow proper guidelines so we can have good quality data.”

Toleafoa stated that he attended the symposium as the Vice Chancellor of the O.U.M. with a special interest in research in kidney diseases.

“I want our medical students including myself and faculty members to conduct research in Samoa about kidney diseases, not only the risk factors for developing kidney diseases in Samoa, but also mortality or death rates from kidney diseases.

“The conference enabled us to ask so many questions concerning kidney diseases that are also relevant to Samoa for example, how many patients who have been admitted to the hospital in one year with kidney failure, or what are the main causes of kidney failure in Samoa which we do not know the answers to.

“The significance of knowing the answers to these questions is if we don’t know the causes, we can’t device any prevention measures for kidney diseases but policy are informed through research analysed and turned into information and informed policy.”

He said he will conduct research with medical students from O.U.M. 

“About three of our students’ proposals are actually with the Health Research Committee for approval, so that we can conduct those researches related to kidney diseases, which are the contribution of medical school to policy development and patient care in Samoa.

“Kidney diseases are still preventable, we need to focus on research and policies that addresses preventable causes of kidney diseases such as diabetes which would require that our people reduce their weight and because prevention is still the best approach.”

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