Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is fast becoming a major public health issue, disproportionately burdening low-income to middle-income countries, where detection rates remain low. We critically assessed the extant literature on CKD screening in low-income to middle-income countries. We performed a PubMed search, up to September 2016, for studies on CKD screening in low-income to middle-income countries. Relevant studies were summarised through key questions derived from the Wilson and Jungner criteria. We found that low-income to middle-income countries are ill-equipped to deal with the devastating consequences of CKD, particularly the late stages of the disease. There are acceptable and relatively simple tools that can aid CKD screening in these countries. Screening should primarily include high-risk individuals (those with hypertension, type 2 diabetes, HIV infection or aged >60 years), but also extend to those with suboptimal levels of risk (eg, prediabetes and prehypertension). Since screening for hypertension, type 2 diabetes and HIV infection is already included in clinical practice guidelines in resource-poor settings, it is conceivable to couple this with simple CKD screening tests. Effective implementation of CKD screening remains a challenge, and the cost-effectiveness of such an undertaking largely remains to be explored. In conclusion, for many compelling reasons, screening for CKD should be a policy priority in low-income to middle-income countries, as early intervention is likely to be effective in reducing the high burden of morbidity and mortality from CKD. This will help health systems to achieve cost-effective prevention.
Keywords: chronic kidney disease; developing countries; screening.