Research on the global burden of kidney disease, published in The Lancet, carries grim tidings. Medical researchers at The George Institute for Global Health have calculated that somewhere between 5 and 10 million people in the world need dialysis right now for terminal kidney failure, but only 2.5 million have access to it, mostly due to cost – the rest will die an unpleasant death. The news gets worse: the number of people on dialysis is set to rise to 5 million by the year 2030, and most of the increase will be in developing countries.
Prevention measures will help, so will improved incomes, better living standards and better nutrition. But despite all this, there are now and will continue to be many millions of people who need dialysis to stay alive, at least until they can get a kidney transplant, and most of them will die an unpleasant and avoidable death from a treatable condition.
Dialysis machines purify the blood, replacing an essential function of the kidneys. They currently cost US$10-20,000 or more each, and need to be attached to elaborate water purification systems which often cost the same again. So the world urgently needs an affordable dialysis machine, one that runs on solar power and can easily purify and use water from any source.
This is the world's first affordable dialysis system.
Ellen Medical was a finalist in the 2017 Eureka Awards, Australia's most prestigious science awards. Find out more