Move to put cost of dialysis on NHIS a good start — Patients
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Move to put cost of dialysis on NHIS a good start — Patients

Renal patients in the country have welcomed the decision by the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to absorb the cost of dialysis for all patients.

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Describing it as a good start, the patients said given the cost, the varying proportions were better than nothing. While the President of the Renal Patient Association, Baffour Kojo Ahenkorah, stated that the announcement was good news and one that they had always been pushing for, the Ghana Kidney Society said it was delighted at the government’s decision to offer support to patients receiving dialysis treatment as part of their renal care.

In an interview with the Daily Graphic, the two bodies said, while they appreciated the gesture, there was room for improvement. " It is welcoming news. It's better than none. So we appreciate the efforts by the government,” they said.

Mr Ahenkorah expressed the hope that the arrangement would be expanded to absorb more people. "I would hope more can be added to it so that everyone can have it free. Because you will see this is in two directives. Children between 0 to 18 and then above 60, are getting all eight sessions free.

"And then between 20 to 59, they are getting only two sessions. So if all can be free for all of us, other chronic kidney disease patients, a comprehensive coverage, we will be more appreciative," he stated.

Financial burden

Mr Ahenkorah further stated that the initiative would help lessen the financial burden going for dialysis had on them. "How much is my salary and if I'm doing eight sessions a month, so multiply the eight sessions by GH¢491. Just look at it and that is just for the cost of the dialysis.

"That's the cost. The other component has not come. The injection, the medication, the transportation to the place. You cannot eat anything just like that. You know, the dietary aspect of it.

So you can just imagine. So this is good," Mr Ahenkorah said. The Kidney Society in Kumasi said though the relief was a temporary one, it was particularly satisfying to learn of the 100 per cent support offered for children under 18 years and those aged 60 and above.

While applauding the government for this temporary relief, which the association believed could keep some patients alive for some six months, “we urge the government to translate this temporary relief to permanent one covering all patient categories.

The President of the society, Prof. Sampson Antwi, said countries such as Cameroun, Cote d'Ivoire, Kenya, Tanzania and Sudan already offered free dialysis to all categories of patients and expressed the hope that Ghana would one day be in that league.

He said although “this support is restricted to Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Tamale Teaching Hospital, Ho Teaching Hospital and the Effia Nkwanta Regional Hospital, we appreciate the government and the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) for this gesture”.

Organ transplant

Prof. Antwi further urged the government, through the Ministry of Health, to urgently attend to the submitted draft legislative framework on organ transplant so that it could be passed by the current Parliament.

“Organ transplant is the ultimate and most cost-effective kidney replacement therapy,” the statement said.

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