Five decades of Indian nephrology: a personal journey

Am J Kidney Dis. 2009 Oct;54(4):753-63. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2009.06.027. Epub 2009 Sep 2.


Impressive accomplishments have been made in Indian nephrology during the last 5 decades. The first renal biopsy performed in 1956 ushered in a new era of modern nephrology practice in India and led to the recognition of nephrology as a distinct specialty. The first hemodialysis facility was established in 1961; presently, there are 950 nephrologists, 850 hospitals equipped with dialysis facilities, and 170 institutions recognized for kidney transplantation, with approximately 3,500 transplantations performed every year. The majority of dialysis units are small minimal-care facilities with fewer than 5 dialysis stations, and more than 85% are in the private sector. Government hospitals provide free treatment to poor patients with chronic kidney disease; however, inadequate funding and lack of health insurance schemes pose serious hurdles in providing renal replacement therapy. In contrast, private/corporate hospitals located in big cities have large units with state-of-the-art dialysis and transplantation facilities, similar to advanced centers of the world, but are accessible to only upper-income groups. Of the estimated 175,000 new patients who develop end-stage renal disease annually, less than 10% are able to gain access to renal replacement therapy. Research in the field of renal diseases has evolved slowly and is focused primarily on tropical conditions. The availability of structured nephrology training programs coupled with excellent diagnostic and therapeutic facilities in some academic institutions and tertiary-care private/corporate hospitals have diminished the need for foreign travel by students, patients, and consultants to a considerable extent. The expansion of therapeutic facilities in India is hampered by only economic constraints, not lack of expertise.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Portrait

MeSH terms

  • Awards and Prizes
  • Biopsy, Needle / history
  • Biopsy, Needle / instrumentation
  • Education, Medical, Continuing
  • Education, Medical, Graduate
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • India
  • Kidney Transplantation / history
  • Kidney Transplantation / trends
  • Nephrology / education
  • Nephrology / history*
  • Nephrology / trends*
  • Periodicals as Topic
  • Peritoneal Dialysis, Continuous Ambulatory / history
  • Peritoneal Dialysis, Continuous Ambulatory / trends
  • Renal Dialysis / history
  • Renal Dialysis / trends
  • Renal Replacement Therapy / history*
  • Renal Replacement Therapy / instrumentation
  • Renal Replacement Therapy / methods
  • Renal Replacement Therapy / statistics & numerical data
  • Renal Replacement Therapy / trends*
  • Research
  • Societies, Medical / history
  • Workforce