Expanding dialysis facilities at affordable cost

Dhaka,  Fri,  22 September 2017
Published : 12 May 2017, 21:39:30

Expanding dialysis facilities at affordable cost

Impaired kidneys are silent killers. Most patients fail to take notice of the signals that the diseased kidneys emit. So, in many cases, doctors have nothing to do except advising patients to undergo dialysis or kidney transplantation
Medical experts' concern about the high costs kidney patients here have to pay for haemodialysis needs to be taken seriously and duly addressed by the health sector policymakers. Speaking at a recent function, organised to mark the acquiring of international standard by a low-cost dialysis service centre in Dhaka, experts cautioned all concerned about an unabated rise in the number of kidney patients in the country. The statistics involving kidney diseases, undoubtedly, are quite disturbing. The number of kidney patients in the country is now estimated at 20 million and 15,000 to 20,000 of them experience renal failure every year. At least, 70 per cent of the patients with renal impairment need dialysis therapy for their survival. But the facilities available in the country for dialysis are limited and expensive.  A patient has to pay between Tk 30,000 and Tk 60,000 for dialysis per month, depending on the frequency of dialysis and standard of the hospitals and clinics.  

Unfortunately, dialysis facilities are not widely available to kidney patients in most areas of the country. Those are concentrated in two major cities---Dhaka and Chittagong. However, one has to accept the fact that the situation is now better than before despite the fact that the number of dialysis centres is still too inadequate to meet the requirement. It is none but kidney patients belonging to poor and low-income families who suffer most. The suffering is far more acute in the case of such patients in outreach districts. Since dialysis facilities are not there in upazila health complexes and most district towns, they crowd in the large public health facilities in Dhaka and Chittagong. But these facilities do not have the capacity to handle the rush of patients. Thus, patients have to endure long waits for dialysis or relevant other treatment free of cost or at low cost. 

The government has recently set up a large haemodialysis centre at the National Institute of Kidney Diseases and Urology (NIKDU) under Private-Public Participation (PPP) initiative with an Indian healthcare company. Poor patients can undergo dialysis at a very low cost. But they are required to wait for a long time to get their turn. Another dialysis unit like that of NIKDU is also in operation at the Chittagong Medical College Hospital. Hopefully, the government will take measures to set up similar units in government hospitals at all district headquarters  so that poor patients are not compelled to make a long journey to Dhaka or Chittagong for dialysis. 

Impaired kidneys are silent killers. Most patients fail to take notice of the signals that the diseased kidneys emit. So, in many cases, doctors have nothing to do except  advising patients to undergo dialysis or kidney transplantation. Those who can afford expensive dialysis live five to ten years after detection of the disease while poor people with similar ailments suffer and die within a short period. So, it remains an important job for the government to make the people aware of the early symptoms of kidney diseases and the need to take doctors' advice in time. Early diagnosis in many cases helps delay the process of renal failure through changes in patients' lifestyle and food habit. Moreover, the directorate of health services should also regulate and monitor the operations of the dialysis units both in private and public hospitals and clinics to ensure quality services to kidney patients.
Editor : A.H.M Moazzem Hossain
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