Demography of Paediatric Renal Care in Europe: Organization and Delivery

Ehrich JH, Amina El Gendi A, Drukker A, Janda J, Stefanidis C, Verrier-Jones K, Collier J, Katz M.: Demography of Paediatric Renal Care in Europe: Organization and Delivery. Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2004 Jun 1

BACKGROUND: Members of the European Society of Paediatric Nephrology (ESPN) initiated a study of the demography and policy of paediatric renal care among European countries at the end of the 20th century. METHODS: A questionnaire was mailed to the presidents of each of 43 national renal paediatric societies or working groups in Europe. Data on each country's population, income as reflected by its gross national product and infant mortality rate, were obtained from the United Nations. The paediatric health care systems were previously divided into three types: general practitioner care system, paediatric care system and combined care system (CCS). 
RESULTS: In 1998, 842 specialized paediatric nephrologists worked in hospitals in 42 European countries. The median number of paediatric nephrologists per million child population (pmcp) was 4.9 (range 0-15). The median number of children served per paediatric nephrologist was significantly higher in countries with the general practitioner care system than in those with the paediatric or combined care system (CCS), namely 370 747 vs 169 456 and 191 788, respectively. In addition to specially trained paediatric nephrologists, there were 1087 paediatricians with a part-time interest/activity in paediatric nephrology in hospitals in 34 European countries. Eastern European countries had significantly more general paediatricians with part-time nephrological activities than countries belonging to the European Union (EU), 16.7 vs 6.6 pmcp. In 1998, 92% of 42 European countries offered paediatric dialysis facilities for acute renal failure and 90% for chronic renal failure and 55% offered paediatric renal transplantation (RTx). Only 30% of Eastern European countries (central omitted) offered paediatric RTx vs 87% of EU countries. The availability of paediatric RTx was associated significantly with the countries' gross national product (r = 0.53, P<0.001). The median number of paediatric hospitals offering dialysis for childhood chronic renal failure was 1.5 pmcp (range 0-5.0) and the median number of paediatric hospitals offering paediatric RTx was 0.4 pmcp (range 0-3.5). Fewer children were on dialysis or were transplanted in Eastern European countries than in the EU. 
CONCLUSIONS: At the end of the 20th century, there was a marked variation in delivery of paediatric renal care within Europe. This was related to factors such as size of the population, geographical and political situation, the type of primary paediatric care system and economic situation. European countries were far from equal with regard to access of renal replacement therapy for children. Improvement of the economic situation is beyond the capabilities of paediatric nephrologists. However, in these days of world-wide globalization paediatricians in greater Europe should be able to achieve better cooperation and exchange of ideas and information which would be the first step towards equality of renal care for children.

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