One in 10 people worldwide have chronic kidney disease, according to The Global Kidney Health Atlas, presented at this week’s World Congress of Nephrology in Mexico City and compiled by the International Society of Nephrology.

One in three people in the general population worldwide is at increased risk of CKD, and the report estimates that 9 in 10 of those with CKD  are unaware of their condition.

Among high-income countries, Saudi Arabia and Belgium have the highest estimated CKD prevalence (24%), followed by Poland (18%), Germany (17%) and the UK and Singapore (16%). Norway and the Netherlands have the lowest estimates at 5%. The United States’ estimated prevalence is 14%, while Canada and Australia are 13%.

Globally, estimated CKD prevalence worldwide varies from 7% in South Asia and 8% in Africa to as high as 11% in North America and 12% in Europe, The Middle East, and East Asia, and Latin America.

Worldwide, an estimated 1 million people die each year from untreated kidney failure. But those with CKD are up to 20 times more likely to die of other causes (largely cardiovascular diseases) before they reach end-stage renal disease.

“A diagnosis of CKD does not mean that you will need dialysis or a transplant, but does signal that you are at risk for many health problems, including heart disease, strokes, and infections,” says Adeera Levin, President of the International Society of Nephrology which produced the Atlas, and a Professor of Medicine at the University of British Colombia, Vancouver, BC, Canada. “People in the earlier stages of CKD can be treated with blood pressure lowering drugs, diet and lifestyle, and can maintain a good quality of life. It is vital therefore that all countries improve their rates of early diagnosis and treatment. However,

“Our Atlas shows that, across countries of all incomes, many governments are not making kidney disease a priority,” said Adeera Levin, President of the International Society of Nephrology and a professor of medicine at the University of British Colombia. “This makes no sense, as the costs for treating people with end stage kidney disease are enormous, along with the devastating effect it has on patients and their families.”