If there is anyone who knows how to raise awareness about kidney disease, that is Carmen Tzanno Branco Martins, the president of the Brazilian Society of Nephrology.
It was such a pleasure to speak to her. I was excited to know more about kidney awareness in Brazil and it turns out I have learned even more than I expected about how to increase awareness thanks to her wise tips!
But who is Carmen? She is a great example of a modern multitasking woman: she is President of the Brazilian Society Of Nephrology (SBN) ,Medical Director of several dialysis clinics, Doctor, Professor, one of the creators of books for renal patients and now, last but not least, one of our World Kidney Day Champions! She is always on the go to raise awareness of kidney disease! “I am very happy to be a WKD Champion and to help raise awareness of kidney disease” she says.
Carmen has been the president of the SNB since January 2015. “I am the First women to be President of this Society; it is a huge privilege but also a big challenge! I need to work hard for the cause and to allow women to be president after me”.
In the past years, The Brazilian Society of Nephrology has been very active for WKD. The Society has organized many activities in city parks, in hospitals, schools, distributing education material and t-shirts to support the kidney cause. The SBN has also written several texts about kidney disease for different medias such as radio, television, newspapers, and online blogs.
Few journalists know about kidney disease and sometimes speaking about dialysis and transplant scares them. Carmen has tried to overcome this problem by thinking outside the box. She attracts journalist’s attention to kidney disease by speaking about topics that can be interesting to a younger public and that are far from the standard information. “This year, for example, we spoke about a problem that is becoming increasingly serious among young people who work out on a regular basis. A lot of them use hormones, anabolic steroids, vitamin D and other substances that can calcify the kidneys. They also use proteins in large quantity which can cause kidney stones”. As Carmen explained, journalists are more interested in the subject as it reaches young people. It is new information compared to what people expect to hear about kidney disease and to what sounds related only to old people, and they are excited to share it”.
The Brazilian Society of Nephrology is very active in raising awareness of kidney disease and they even managed to have the famous Christ the Redeemer illuminated on World Kidney Day!
They also attract a lot of attention to World Kidney Day giving WKD t-shirts to celebrities, like the soccer player Neymar. The celebrity is encouraged to take pictures wearing a WKD t-shirt and post them on their social media accounts. “It has a very big repercussion on the population”, said Carmen. Celebrities like to be part of this campaign because they help educate people to have a healthy lifestyle, to drink water, to do sport in order to prevent kidney disease. “They are happy to collaborate with us when we speak about prevention as something positive; they want to be related to a positive and noble cause.” It is easier to speak about being healthy than to speak about disease. As Carmen added, “everyone is searching for happiness; people prefer to forget that diseases exist, they feel more interested when we tell them how to be healthy”.
Carmen pointed out how glad she was to share World Kidney Day with the Brazilian population that is mostly unaware of kidney disease. World Kidney Day has still a long way to go and for Carmen reaching pregnant women would be an important step. “We need to teach them how to take care of themselves, that their children’s health depends on them and that healthy habits should be taken up early”.
That is why Carmen finds the 2016 WKD theme: “Kidney Disease and Children: Act Early To prevent It!” interesting. “We need to draw attention to the fact that kidney disease can start at early age and that the prevention needs to be done early”. Too many times, people think kidney disease is only for old people. The best way to reach the population, in particularly pregnant women and parents, is through social media since we all live a new era were the information is found on those platforms.”
Again, as Carmen said: “everyone is looking for happiness, for good things”. So let’s join our forces and spread information about the importance of being healthy and taking care of our kidneys!
We wish all the best to Carmen and the Brazilian Society of Nephrology but we have no doubt that World Kidney Day 2016 in Brazil will be a great success!
More info about the Brazilian Society of Nephrology and their activities?