Availability and Affordability of Kidney Health Laboratory Tests around the Globe

Am J Nephrol. 2020;51(12):959-965. doi: 10.1159/000511848. Epub 2020 Dec 17.


Background: Kidney disease is a major global public health problem, and laboratory testing of kidney health measures is essential for diagnosis and monitoring. The availability and affordability of kidney health laboratory tests across countries has not been systematically described.

Methods: The International Society of Nephrology (ISN), in partnership with leaders of a Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes (KDIGO) Controversies Conference, surveyed a representative subset of ISN-Global Kidney Health Atlas (ISN-GKHA) respondents from April to June 2020. We assessed the association between country gross national income (GNI) per capita and laboratory testing availability and affordability.

Results: Of 33 regional expert nephrologists invited, 24 (73%) responded, representing all 10 ISN regions around the world. Availability of kidney health laboratory tests was as follows: serum Cr (100%), serum cystatin C (67%), urine albumin (96%), urine Cr (100%), and dipstick urinalysis (100%). Median (IQR) reimbursement values in international dollars were as follows: serum Cr Int$ 6.61 (3.42-8.84), serum cystatin C Int$ 31.51 (17.36-46.25), urine albumin Int$ 10.22 (5.90-15.42), urine Cr Int$ 7.50 (1.66-8.84), and dipstick urinalysis Int$ 6.26 (2.56-8.40). Reimbursement values did not differ significantly by World Bank income group or by GNI per capita.

Conclusion: There was widespread availability of kidney health laboratory tests and substantial variation in reimbursement values. To achieve meaningful progress across nations in mitigating the growth of kidney disease, access to affordable diagnostic technology is essential. Our results are highly relevant to policymakers and researchers as countries increasingly consider national strategies for kidney disease detection and management.

Keywords: Access; Affordability; Chronic kidney disease; Diagnostics; Global health; Laboratory testing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Costs and Cost Analysis*
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Internationality
  • Kidney Function Tests / economics*
  • Kidney Function Tests / statistics & numerical data*