At the end of the year 2003, the number of people undergoing dialysis approached 1.3 million – a number certainly unimaginable in the early days of dialysis. Just thirty years ago, only approximately 35,000 patients had access to this life-saving therapy.

Today, the global end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patient population continues to grow at an annual rate of around 6% – a growth driven by an aging population, increased incidence of diseases involving renal failure, improved technology and better access to treatment.

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 wellbeing 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 inevitable.

122 countries now contribute to the annual Fresenius Medical Care survey. This brochure provides a comprehensive overview of ESRD epidemiology at the end of the year 2003 and, as such, offers a unique insight into this patient population, its global distribution and the treatment modalities employed.

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