Kidney patients have received a medical boost following the government’s modernisation of provincial hospitals, which will decentralise the dialysis process from the two main referral hospitals in the country.
Kidney patients have hitherto been forced to traverse the country for weekly removal of toxins from the blood, incurring heavy travel costs on top of the medication and dialysis process.
Kenyatta National Hospital and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital are the only public facilities with dialysis machines to cater for the over 400 patients suffering from kidney ailments.
While the other options is private hospitals, the costs are beyond most patients. At the public referral hospitals, the dialysis process is subsidised to stand at about Sh4,500 per session, while the private facilities demand more than double the amount. Kidney specialists recommended two sessions per week.
Three provincial hospitals have been earmarked for the first phase, pegged on the need according to patients at the two public referral hospitals.
“We have already procured 12 dialysis machines and they are currently installed,” said Dr Wycliff Magia, deputy director medical service, Ministry of Medical Services.
In about two months, Mombassa and Nakuru will have five machines while Kisumu will have two.
Due to the low number of machines around the country, the available ones are overloaded, leading to massive wear and tear.
“We are not able to provide optimum services to our patients. One session takes four hours. One machine handles about three patients per day, non-stop. We can not leave everything to the government, a private-public partnership is the way to ease this burden,” said KNH acting chief executive officer Dr Charles Kabetu while receiving the dialysis machines from the Safaricom Foundation.
There are about 150 patients with kidney failure in KNH who need dialysis. Most have to wait for about three days to remove toxins from their blood. Yet KNH can only handle a maximum of 35 patients on the dialysis machines per week.
Kidney failure has soared over the last five years following an increase of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.
Safaricom Foundation chairman Les Baillie, said there were plans to donate more machines to the hospital’s renal unit following an application for 10 dialysis machines.
In the second phase of decentralising the dialysis process, the government will move to other provincial hospitals such as Kakamega, Embu, Garissa, Nyeri as well as large volume hospitals like Thika, Machakos and Kisii.
A dialysis machine costs between Sh1.7 million to Sh2 million while dialysis beds need an additional Sh1.5 million. KNH currently needs 24 such beds. Moi Referral is also set to receive two dialysis machines.
The dispersal process is expected to decongest the two main referral hospitals in order to disperse specialized care.
Currently, medical staff at the provincial hospitals that will receive dialysis machines are undergoing training.
However, KNH is now working to reduce the cots of kidney transplant in order to decrease the demand for dialysis, which is a life long process, by subsiding drugs by at least 50 per cent, though a partnership with Novartis Pharma.