Inadequate kidney equipment, high cost of treatment causes of fatalities : Prof. Sampson Antwi
Lack of equipment, coupled with the high cost of treatment of kidney diseases had resulted in the death of many patients in the country.
According to the President of the Ghana Kidney Association (GKA), Prof. Sampson Antwi, every child diagnosed with end-stage kidney disease either dies in a health facility or is counselled to go home and die, adding “this is what we live with and the narrative must change”.
“Today, at 50 years of dialysis, many more citizens who need this life-saving medical service die because of lack of access and prohibitive cost of care which is in contrast to what pertains in other countries such as Cameroun and Sudan,” he said.
Prof. Antwi, who was speaking at a symposium to mark 50 years of dialysis in the country in Accra yesterday, said the celebration was fraught with challenges, considering the slow pace of progress for full kidney treatment therapy, including kidney transplant services and the challenges patients go through to access the service.
The event was on the theme: “50 years of dialysis in Ghana, the past, present and the future.”
Prof. Antwi said figures at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi put the number of children with end-stage kidney disease to be between a minimum of 15 kidneys to a maximum of 40 in children in a year.
Sadly, he said “all of them die in the facilities or are counselled to die”.
Prof. Antwi, therefore, called on the government, corporate bodies, individuals and philanthropists to partner the GKA to change the narrative of kidney replacement therapy in the country.
A Senior Specialist Physician at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH), Dr Abdul Jalil Inusah, in a presentation on “the state of dialysis in Ghana”, said as at 2015, there were only six dialysis centres — three each in public and private sectors.
He, however, said recent checks revealed they had increased to 51 dialysis centres out of which 14 were functional and located in nine out of the 16 regions, with many in the private sector.
“There is some progress, but the population is also increasing and so we need more functional centres to provide adequate dialysis to our patients.
“Quite worrying is the seven regions which are still without dialysis centres,” the specialist added.
Dr Inusah, a nephrologist, therefore, called for massive investment in kidney health care, including advocacy in the country.
The Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, who attended the event, pledged government’s support to the GKA, saying that local manufacturers would be empowered to produce, at least, dialysis consumables in the country.
“I am sure the private sector will be willing.
“I think we have more work to do, including supporting people who are ready to donate but do not have money to pay for the surgery,” Dr Bawumia added.
Herbal concoction concerns
On uncontrolled advertisement and sale of certain herbal concoctions, the Vice-President said the proliferation of herbal medical centres and advertisement of drugs on main and social media platforms needed to be monitored by the Food and Drugs Authority.
“Acute kidney injury from the use of herbal remedies is said to account for about 30 to 35 per cent of all cases of acute kidney failures in Africa.
“Pollution of soil and water bodies can have serious effects on our kidney health, and so we as a people should be worried about the consequences of illegal mining (galamsey),” Dr Bawumia added.