The latest research on the global burden of kidney disease, newly 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.