Doctors warn residents to cut their sugar intake as obesity is one of the main contributing factors to kidney diseases.

His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, inaugurated the Kidney Disease Awareness Day at the American University of Sharjah.

The event was organised by the Friends of Kidney Patients Society, a member of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs in Sharjah.

The leading cause of chronic kidney disease is diabetes and high blood pressure. According to Dr Moza Bin Dakheen, consultant Head of Urology Dubai Hospital, without the necessary medical treatment cronic kidney disease can also cause blindness.

Dr Aisha Ebrahim, quality coordinator at Kuwait Hospital said that it is difficult to quantify how many people in the UAE suffer from kidney disease due to the lack of statistics. "However, diabetes and high blood pressure are two of the main causes and the UAE is rated second in the world with the number of diabetes suffererers," she said.

Two discussion panels debated the issue, outlining kidney diseases, prevention and treatment. Dr Aisha said that more than 20 million people worldwide suffer from kidney diseases, while reviewing international, regional and local statistics on kidney patients.

According to 2006 statistics, 809 UAE nationals and 584 expatriates with kidney disease were treated in Sharjah at Al Qasimi Hospital.

The highest percentage of kidney diseases in the Arab world is in Egypt, said Dr Ebrahim. "More than 32,000 Egyptians suffer from kidney diseases." She added that obesity was the main contributing factor.

Mariam Khalfan, Director of the Friends of Kidney Patients Society, said that the society has been working since its launch in May 2007 to spread awareness of kidney diseases, which includes facilitating kidney transplants for those who are financially unable to do so.

Basic practices to prevent kidney disease:
Eat a healthy diet;
Do regular exercise;
Stop smoking;
Drink at least 1.5 litres of water to prevent kidney stones;
Schedule regular check-ups with your general practitioner.