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Globally, more than 500 million individuals, or about one adult in ten in the general population, have some form of chronic kidney disease. Worldwide, over 1.5 million people are currently alive through either dialysis or transplantation. The cumulative global cost for renal replacement therapy is predicted to exceed US$ 1 trillion. 

 
A joint initiative of the International Society of Nephrology and the International Federation of Kidney Foundations, World Kidney Day was launched last year and will be celebrated on March 8, 2007.
 
The purpose of the World Kidney Day is to raise awareness about the importance of our kidneys, as an amazing organ that plays a crucial role in keeping us alive and well, and to spread the message that kidney disease is common, harmful and treatable.
 
The Department of Health has chosen the National Kidney and Transplant Institute as the lead agency in promoting this message. A series of activities are lined-up for this whole day affair, that aims to increase awareness regarding the importance of taking good care of our kidneys and preventing kidney disease. There will be lay fora conducted to various agencies and the promotion of the month-long activities for the upcoming celebration of the National Kidney Month this coming June.
 
 
WHY A WORLD KIDNEY DAY? 
THE “BIGGER PICTURE”
 
Chronic, non-communicable diseases (particularly cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes mellitus and chronic kidney disease) have now replaced the communicable diseases as the leading threat to public health and health budgets worldwide.
 
Deaths claimed by infectious diseases will decline by 3% over the next decade. In marked contrast, chronic diseases – that already account for 72% of the total global burden of disease in people over 30 – will increase by 17%. Much of this in developing countries. The cost of treating these chronic diseases, already 80% of many health care budgets, represents a leading threat to public health and healthcare resources worldwide. 
 
The only feasible global response to this pending health and socio-economic crisis is chronic disease prevention.
 

Last February 22, 2008, a special reunion was held in order to remember the 25th birthday of NKTI and how everything came to being. Present were three guests of honor as well as the other original cast members and all those who had contributed significantly to the NKFP during its early years. Guests couldn’t help but notice the high ceiling, the marbled floors, the escalators, and the huge sculpture that gave some feeling of elegance to this “government” hospital. As the guests poured in, each wore a smile that seemed to say “it’s so nice to be back home”. Much like how we feel at our high school homecomings.

A special Thanksgiving Mass started the festivities. This was held at the hospital atrium where everyone could see how progressive the institute has become. After the mass, Former First Lady Madame Imelda Romualdez Marcos cut the ceremonial ribbon that formally opened the NKTI 25th Anniversary Photo Exhibit. This exhibit showcased photos dating from 1983 till the present. Each Department was given a large area to display all their photos – old or recent, formal or informal, serious or crazy. Seeing all those photos shows how much character and culture each department developed through the years. It was interesting to see photos of people from way back and compare them to how they appear now in person. An award table was also designed to highlight the various awards the hospital had garnered through its 25 years of existence. It is definitely a source of pride to each member of the NKTI community.

After the ribbon cutting, we heard speeches from the three guests of honor. Dr. Claver Ramos gave a speech on how the NKFP started. With the help of his powerpoint presentation, he shared with us various pictures, old news clippings, and even a handwritten letter. This definitely set the reminiscent mood for everyone. Dr. Cuasi Romualdez gave a short speech identifying his role in the creation of the NKFP. Former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos gave us a very charismatic and equally reminiscent journey on how the NKFP came into being. A class picture was taken to document this important homecoming, with all these original cast members now enjoying what has become of the former NKFP.

After the ceremonies at the atrium, Dr. Enrique Ona led our guests of honor on a tour of the NKTI and all its facilities, starting from the impressive Department of Laboratory Medicine Reception area, through the Hemodialysis Center ending at the Doctors’ Lounge where a sumptuous lunch buffet was served. During lunch, so many stories from way back could be heard. It seemed like everyone was enjoying this exchange of memories. Some could be seen laughing their hearts out as they remember how it used to be. For a few hours that day, everyone felt young again.

The celebration ended with a short tour of the former Marcos suite. An attempt was made to recreate how this suite looked like 25 years ago. The former president’s old recliner and projection TV were set into place. Several photos of former President Marcos were displayed that somewhat added to the ambience. As she stood inside the suite, flushed with memories of the past, Mrs. Marcos again reminisced on how things were then and the role NKFP played in the life of her husband and her family.

As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of our institute, we not only reminisce and look at the past. We must look at the present and appreciate what has become of us. How we have grown and progressed. We must remember that our present success doesn’t mean we can rest on our laurels. We must also look ahead to the next 25 years. With a clear mission and vision in mind, we must continue to strive for excellence in delivering health care to our patients. Besides, that is what the National Kidney and Transplant Institute is all about.

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