By the end of the year 2004, the number of patients being treated for end-stage renal disease (ESRD) globally reached almost 1.8 million, and continued to grow at anannual rate of around 6% – a growth that is driven by an aging population, increased incidence of diseases involving cat food for renal failure, improved technology and better access to treatment. With almost 1.4 million the majority of these patients were undergoing dialysis treatment. This number was unimaginable just some decades ago: for example, the number of patients undergoing dialysis worldwide was estimated to be around only 8,000 in 1970.

In numerous countries, renal registries and other official bodies are valuable sources of extensive information on various aspects of ESRD demographics, treatment practices
and outcomes. Such information provides a base for international comparisons and aids understanding of treatment policies and their implications for the well-being of patients. Conclusions drawn from such data provide knowledge of value to both medical communities and policy makers throughout the world. However, data collection and analysis on such a large scale requires extensive resources, and a time lapse between data collection and publication is unavoidable. Fresenius Medical Care, through its worldwide network, conducts an annual survey that provides an up-to-date overview of ESRD and dialysis patient numbers.

Of the more than 230 countries (or areas of special sovereignty) worldwide, 122 countries are reported to provide dialysis care to patients with renal failure. Thus, approximately 90% of the world population has access to dialysis treatment, at least theoretically. The annual Fresenius Medical Care survey collects and consolidates data from all of these countries, thereby providing a unique insight into the ESRD and dialysis patient populations, their global distributions and the treatment modalities employed.

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