Dialysis at Korle Bu: We can't pay cost increment - Patients appeal to govt [VIDEO]
Persons suffering from kidney failure have appealed to the government and the Ministry of Health to take a second look at the decision to review upward, the current cost of dialysis at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH).
“We cannot pay for any extra increment from the existing cost since we are already financially challenged. This will increase the morbidity rate of persons with renal conditions in Ghana,” they said.
Following reports of a proposed upward adjustment of the cost for dialysis from GH¢380 to GH¢765.14 on Tuesday, September 26, 2023, the patients who are suffering from End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) said the over 100 per cent increment “caused a lot of panic”.
Dialysis is the clinical purification of blood to remove waste products and regulate the electrolyte balance as a substitute for the normal functioning of the kidney.
Patients with ESRD conditions require dialysis three times in a week.
Spokesperson for the patients with renal conditions at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH), Michael Asante, said their present health condition had incapacitated many of them, making it impossible for them to work and earn income to cover the cost of their treatment.
“Three sessions of dialysis in a week at the current cost of GH¢380 she said cost GH¢1,140, GH¢4,560 at the end of a month and an annual cost of GH¢54,720.
“With the proposed price, the annual cost of dialysis is going to shoot from GH¢54,720 to an unbearable cost of GH¢110,160. Not forgetting the other huge costs embedded in numerous monthly laboratory tests, and the catheter and fistula fixing and replacements when needed to ensure access for dialysis; scans, X-rays, blood transfusions, medications, transportation and feeding using dietary plans,” he said.
Since May 22, Mr Asante said the Renal Centre at the KBTH had been closed to Out Patients with renal conditions except patients on admission.
The situation, the spokesperson said had left many patients struggling to finance their dialysis treatment at private dialysis centres where they paid between GH¢400 to GH¢600 for a session.
“The private services are at a high cost and because we cannot pay, most of us go for just a session in a week instead of three and some cannot go for dialysis treatment at all.”
Following the closure of the Renal Unit, Mr Asante said 14 patients lost their lives within a fortnight “and this has left the rest of us living in constant fear because we do not know who amongst us will be the next to lose their lives”
The group observed a minute’s silence for their departed friends.
Mr Asante appealed to the government to consider a waiver on the import duties and other related taxes on dialysis consumables and machines as part of an effort to make kidney failure treatment affordable for patients with renal conditions in the country.
He also, on behalf of the patients, urged the government to revise the National Health Insurance Scheme policy to cover the cost of dialysis or to subsidise the procedure.
“We need sustainable policies towards kidney disease management, and other terminal diseases, otherwise Ghana will lose too many citizens, especially its future production power - our youth, to these dreadful conditions,” they said.
One of the patients, Christiana Afful, said apart from the financial challenge faced by patients with ESRD, they also suffered physically, mentally, emotionally and psychologically.
“A typical patient needs the services of a nephrologist (Kidney specialist), a dietician, a psychologist and in rare cases, a physiotherapist,” she said.
Due to limited dialysis centres in the country, Ms Afful said a number of patients had to travel long distances to access treatment.
After commending the management of First Sky Group of companies for taking up the cost of dialysis for a number of patients with renal conditions who visit the Korle Bu Renal Unit for the past six years, she appealed to the public, philanthropists, churches, corporate organisations, non governmental organisations to assist ESRD patients.
A patient, who has suffered the condition for 11 years, Gifty Larbi, said she lived with her aged mother at Begoro in the Eastern Region and had to travel to the Korle-Bu renal unit for her sessions three times in a week as she was a beneficiary of the subsidised dialysis at the unit.
“Getting money for my transportation to access dialysis is even a problem. I depend on my old mother who goes around soliciting for money from friends and relations. I cannot afford an increment in the prices or private health care. The government must have mercy on us,” she said while wiping a tear.
During the press conference, some of the patients carried placards which read “we cannot pay the cost of dialysis”, “dialysis is too expensive, government come to our aid now”.
The management of the KBTH in Accra had since September 29, 2023 denied increasing the charges for dialysis at the nation’s premier health facility.
That followed a notice purported to have emanated from the hospital circulating on some social media handles indicating an increase in the cost of renal dialysis at the facility.
The notice, which was written in capital letters, read: "Cost of dialysis has been increased from GH¢380.00 to GH¢765.42.
Thank you. Head of unit", printed in block letters.
But in a statement, the management of the hospital said a price review proposal presented by the Renal Dialysis Unit was yet to receive consideration and approval.
However, the Daily Graphic has sighted receipts of patients with the new price.
The receipt issued by the KBTH for GH¢765.47 stands in the name of a 52-year-old patient (name withheld), who paid on September 26, this year.