How Fresenius Medical Care’s Kidney Kid is promoting better kidney health

Harry de Wit, Chief Executive Officer, APAC, Fresenius Medical Care

Fresenius Medical Care, the provider of products and services for individuals with renal diseases, has today announced the social media expansion of its highly successful global Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative, The Kidney Kid.

The superhero character, on a mission to help kids learn about their ‘super organ’ kidneys and how to keep them healthy, will further its reach to millennial parents through social media.

The initiative’s latest development comes ahead of the World Kidney Day 2022, which is urging the community, healthcare workers, and public health policymakers to Bridge the knowledge gap to better kidney care – which aligns precisely with The Kidney Kid’s mission.

Fresenius Medical Care’s Kidney Kid’s global impact

Since its inception in 2014, The Kidney Kid ‘edutainment’ (education + entertainment) program has engaged with tens of thousands of children through face-to-face events.

Following The Kidney Kid’s digital and international growth in 2020, the superhero has connected with even more children across four continents. Now, to coincide with World Kidney Day 2022, The Kidney Kid will become social, via Facebook and Instagram.

The aim is to reach families with preventative kidney health messages that resonate across literacy levels. Fresenius Medical Care is creating opportunities to foster the exchange of kidney health knowledge between individuals, communities and healthcare professionals.

These will include the launch of The Kidney Kid’s partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, where the superhero will share its health messages through this vast network.

Other events include a virtual media conference in Indonesia and awareness events at schools and kids hospitals in China. A new Kidney Kid animation series is also in development.

“The need to strengthen The Kidney Kid’s reach has become even more vital”, said Harry de Wit, CEO of Fresenius Medical Care Asia Pacific region and President Europe, EMEA.

“The World Kidney Day Organization has highlighted that there is a persistent knowledge gap that is stifling the fight against kidney disease. The 2022 World Kidney Day special report reports that most people aren’t aware of what kidneys are for, or even where they are”.

Health literacy vital according to Fresenius Medical Care

Amongst the many barriers to understanding kidney health and preventing kidney disease is low health literacy, which impacts the ability of people to find, understand, and use information and services to make health-related decisions for themselves and others.

Low health literacy is alarmingly common across both developing and developed economies. A review across Southeast Asia found that 70 per cent of patients in low health literacy.

In the USA, the proportion of adults with basic or below basic health literacy ranges from 28 per cent of white adults to 65 per cent of Hispanic adults. While across Europe, nearly half of all adults in eight countries tested had inadequate or problematic health literacy skills.

Policymakers, healthcare professionals, and organizations, are increasingly looking for new ways to bridge the gap between health literacy and people’s understanding of kidney disease.

Low health literacy inspired Fresenius’ Kidney kid

It was recognition of this gap that led to Fresenius Medical Care creating The Kidney Kid from as early as 2014. As the digitalization and impact of the superhero’s kidney health messages have grown, so too has the literature supporting visual multimedia-based information to enhance the delivery of health information in communities with low health literacy.

In particular, research has shown that animation is one of the most effective ways to communicate complex health information to people with both low and high health literacy.

Animated information is perceived as familiar and accessible across age groups, cultures and literacy levels. By holding viewers’ attention, it may also improve the recall of information.

The Kidney Kid’s animated adventures, which promote healthy kidney behaviors, are available to all age groups across comics, activities, games, and videos through The Kidney Kid game website and print materials. The next challenge is to widen the influence of the message, which is possible through social media, where many new parents turn for parenting insight.

“By communicating directly with parents through Facebook and Instagram, and involving them in our ‘I am The Kidney Kid’ campaign using a digital filter to become their own kidney health ambassadors, we can offer parents a new way of connecting with their children while providing the credible information they are seeking”, said Mr. de Wit.

“We know from research that the middle childhood years are critical for the adoption of health behaviors that can have lifelong consequences, and we are excited about this novel way of bridging the knowledge gap to better kidney health worldwide”.