March 12 is the 10th anniversary of World Kidney Day, which is organized by the International Society of Nephrologyand the International Federation of Kidney Foundations. This year’s theme “Kidney Health for All” is a reminder that we are not all equal with regards to risk for kidney disease and access to treatment, the organizers said in a release.

With 10% of the population worldwide having some form of kidney damage, there is a long road ahead to raise awareness about the dangers of kidney disease. Chronic Kidney Disease, which is predicted to increase by 17% over the next decade, is now recognized by WHO and other organizations as a global public health issue, according to the organizers.

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There are a number of challenges in tackling Chronic Kidney Disease in vulnerable populations: poor water hygiene, lack of hydration, unhealthy choice of food and beverages, language barriers, education and literacy levels, low income, unemployment, lack of adequate health insurance, and certain culture-specific health beliefs and practices, according to the organizers.

 “To have end­stage renal disease in Mexico, for example, is a tragedy, said WKD Steering Committee IFKF Co-chair, Dr. Guillermo Garcia. "If you don’t have Social Security, if you don’t have private insurance, you are condemned to die."

On World Kidney Day, the organizers are encouraging governments, health professionals and patients to drink to their kidneys and to give a glass of water to their families, friends and co-workers. "This is a both a symbolic gesture and a conversation starter to raise awareness about the risks, dangers and burden of kidney disease and how to prevent and treat it in a simple manner across the globe—hopefully making people more conscious about their lifestyle choices."

 “Sharing a glass of water on March 12 is a good way to remind us that kidneys are vital organs and that they should be taken care of, wherever you live and whether you’re at risk or not," said WKD Steering Committee ISN Co-chair, Dr. Philip Li. "Taking steps to live a healthy lifestyle clearly helps to reduce risk, and early detection and treatment can slow or prevent the progression of kidney disease.”