National Kidney Foundation Issues Statement on Health Disparities, Racial Violence

June 6, 2020
AJMC Staff
AJMC Staff

The NKF, which works to address health issues for 37 million people in the United States with kidney disease, said Floyd’s death and the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic both highlight disparities in health outcomes between minority groups and whites.

The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) this week issued a statement condemning ongoing patterns of health disparities, inequality, and racial violence in the wake of the death of George Floyd. Four Minneapolis, Minnesota police officers have been charged in Floyd’s death, which the NKF said has drawn attention to differences faced by American Americans in encounters with police.

The NKF, which works to address health issues for 37 million people in the United States with kidney disease, said Floyd’s death and the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic both highlight disparities in health outcomes between minority groups and whites. Disparities are a major focus for the NKD, as people of African American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian or Pacific Islander descent are at increased risk for developing the disease. According to NKF, African Americans are 3 times more likely to develop end-stage renal disease (ESRD) than whites. Hispanics are nearly 1.5 times more likely than those who are not Hispanic to develop ESRD.

“The recent, tragic death of George Floyd continues to evidence the extreme racial disparities faced by the African American community. As a nation and as a nonprofit organization, we cannot condone racism, racial violence, disparities or inequality,” the statement from the foundation said.

“The global pandemic has disrupted our lives in many ways. And that disruption has disproportionately affected communities of color with higher death rates and lack of access to healthcare. For our part, NKF is fighting for affordable health care for all, access to medication, patient choice, access to transplantation and home dialysis. Yet, COVID-19 has given us the opportunity, and the imperative, to accelerate our support for minority communities.”

Persons with kidney disease and ESRD are more likely to have diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and recent research has focused on the relationship between cardiovascular function and the effect on the renal system. Early research has shown that those with diabetes and obesity are at particularly high risk from COVID-19, and the disease can cause renal failure even in those who did not previously have acute kidney damage. All these conditions are more likely to affect members of minority populations.

THE NKF statement says that the group is providing data on “all tests, hospitalizations, discharges and deaths from COVID-19 so we fully understand the scope of the impact on minority communities,” along with supporting “investments in public health infrastructure in traditionally under-served communities; and increase funding for kidney research and targeted awareness.”

“While this work is incredibly important, it alone cannot possibly solve every problem of racial disparity facing the African American community, or in any community of color,” the statement concludes. “But it can make progress towards addressing the healthcare disparities, which continue to serve as a catalyst for disenfranchisement among minority communities.”