Join the fight: Health equity advocacy trainings

Advocacy is a powerful tool in the fight against kidney disease and the pursuit of health equity. By sharing their stories with policymakers, healthcare providers and the public, advocates can play a key role in helping to shape policies and laws that will improve health outcomes for people with kidney disease and bring attention to health disparities.

In 2023 as part of our work with AKF's Health Equity Coalition, AKF launched a health equity training program for advocates, offered both virtually and in-person to communities across the country touched by kidney disease, including patients, caregivers and health care professionals.

Delivering health equity training to advocates in the kidney disease community is an essential step toward fostering a more equitable health care system. By connecting with advocates, enhancing their understanding of health equity and empowering them with advocacy skills, we can drive change in policies, laws and regulations that will ultimately improve kidney disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

Goals for the trainings include: 

  • Facilitating connections among advocates in the community 
  • Training attendees on how to be an effective advocate for the kidney disease community 
  • Helping attendees develop an understanding of health equity and the health disparities impacting kidney patients 
  • Empower attendees to advocate for health equity 

Trainings are available to any of the following people: 

  • People living with kidney disease 
  • Caregivers for people living with kidney disease 
  • People at risk for kidney disease 
  • Organizations that work with people who are at risk for kidney disease 

During health equity trainings, attendees: 

  • Gain knowledge and skills to advocate for policy changes, increased funding for research and prevention programs and improved access to high-quality care for all individuals affected by kidney disease. 
  • Learn about the root causes of health disparities, including social determinants of health (SDOH) such as income, employment and access to health care.  
  • Participate in interactive sessions to gain an understanding of how these factors influence kidney disease prevalence, progression and outcomes. 
  • Explore strategies to address SDOH barriers and promote equitable access to care, treatment and support services. 
  • Learn how to create partnerships with health care professionals, researchers and community organizations so they can play an active role in designing patient-centered interventions, raising awareness and promoting early detection and prevention efforts. 

Highlights from health equity trainings 

“Living Your Best Life with Kidney Disease Patient Expo” in Atlanta, Georgia

"Living Your Best Life with Kidney Disease Patient Expo" in Atlanta, Georgia

Date: June 10 

Event partner: IPRO  

David Rush, recording artist and kidney advocate, served as the event emcee. Georgia state Sen. John Albers, who recently donated his kidney to his son, was the keynote speaker.  

Pennsylvania state Sen. Lindsay Williams joined AKF for this event to discuss a new version of the Living Donor Protection Act in Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 

Date: July 19 

Pennsylvania state Sen. Lindsay Williams joined AKF for this event to discuss a new version of the Living Donor Protection Act in Pennsylvania, for which she is the lead sponsor. Unlike the version that passed in 2021, the new bill would provide tax credits and other incentives for living organ donors.  

Delegate Arvind Venkat, an emergency physician in Pittsburgh and son of a nephrologist, spoke about his experience in the medical field and why supporting the kidney community is a natural fit for him.  

Congressman Joaquin Castro

San Antonio, Texas 

Date: August 26 

Gail Dewald, a nephrology nurse with the American Nephrology Nurses Association, led the discussion on health disparities at this event.  

Congressman Joaquin Castro, who has represented San Antonio in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2013, told attendees how three generations of his family struggled with getting access to affordable health care, and the difficult decisions that costly health care caused them to make, such as choosing food over medicine. He shared that, even as a U.S. Congressman, he only found out he had cancer because he was provided with a thorough range of health screenings while out of the country. He stated that these experiences drive his support for health equity.

South Carolina DHEC

Columbia, South Carolina 

Date: September 30  

We held this training in the community (zip code 29203) which has the highest rate of diabetic amputations in the U.S.  Given that diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease, this is of particular concern for the kidney community. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) joined the training and presented data about diabetes and high blood pressure in the community.  

AKF Ambassador Patrick Gee shared his personal story about kidney disease and also discussed his work with the kidney community and the high risk of kidney disease among communities of color. 

Through collaborative efforts, we can dismantle systemic barriers, address social determinants of health and ensure that all individuals have equal opportunities to live healthy lives.

AKF's health equity training events are made possible with generous support from AstraZeneca.