Persons in need of Renal (kidney) Replacement Therapy (RRT) should be relieved to know that the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) will soon be offering Hemodialysis, free of cost.
Hemodialysis is a method for removing waste products such as creatinine and urea, as well as, free water from the blood when the kidneys are in renal failure.
According to Health Minister Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, “Because of hypertension and diabetes which are both growing pandemics, the number of persons with end-stage renal disease are increasing globally. One of the important interventions that developed over the last 40 years is known as RRT.”
There are two forms of dialysis and they represent important components of RRT: Hemodialysis and Peritoneal dialysis. They are both available in Guyana.
However, Hemodialysis is offered privately and is quite costly.
Dr. Ramsammy noted that the establishment of a Hemodialysis Unit at the public health facility is through collaboration between the Doobay Renal Centre Toronto and the Ministry of Health.
He stated that Dr. Budh Doobay, a Guyanese cardiologist based in Toronto, and Head of the Doobay Renal Centre Toronto, does a lot of charitable work in Guyana. Dr. Doobay has assembled a team and is establishing the Doobay Renal Centre in Annandale, East Coast Demerara.
The centre is presently being prepared with the installation of equipment, chairs, and water purification systems among other necessities, under the supervision of dialysis technicians, dialysis nurses and a nephrologist (all from Canada). The nephrologist is being hired to work full-time at the centre.
Dr. Ramsammy revealed that the centre will be operated as a non-profit organization. He stated that discussions are ongoing with the Ministry of Health to have the cost be no more than US$75 per treatment. However, the body is hoping to reduce that even further.
Meanwhile, the Doobay Renal Centre Toronto is helping GPHC to establish a three-chair unit so that Hemodialysis therapy will be offered at the facility. In addition, the team that is currently preparing the centre at Annandale will be installing the equipment at GPHC.
It was noted that the three chairs and monitors cost US$20,000 each and the water purification system is about US$60,000.
The operations at the Annandale Centre will commence in October and the Georgetown Centre will be opened shortly after. Moreover, the staff of the Annandale Centre is expected to train the staff at the GPHC’s unit.
Dr. Ramsammy posited that whilst these costs are highly subsidized, the Government will continue to support the persons accessing dialysis from other service providers.
“Presently, the Hemodialysis treatment is only available in the private sector. There is a standalone Hemodialysis clinic in South Ruimveldt called 5G. It has been in operation for the last five years. Indeed, 5G is the pioneer of Hemodialysis in Guyana.”
The Health Minister stressed that many persons in Guyana are alive today because of 5G’s service that has met international standards.
He asserted that within the last two years the Hemodialysis service was established at the Balwant Singh Hospital. This service is also meeting international standards and saving lives.
The challenge encountered with these services, is that they are not affordable to the vast majority of the persons who need them. Dr. Ramsammy explained that the families of the vast majority of persons who presently access those services, have had to seek support from the Ministry of Health.
He emphasized that in last five years or so, the Ministry spent about $25M to support persons in need of dialysis. At this time, it costs between US$150 and US$200 per treatment and a person may need treatment three times per week for the rest of his/ her life.
Meanwhile, Peritoneal dialysis has been available in both the private and public sector health facilities for several years. Several persons are currently receiving this service at GPHC.
Dr. Ramsammy noted that Peritoneal dialysis is being provided as a free service. It is a lower cost, less technology-intensive technique, and whilst it is effective for persons with severe end-stage renal diseases, it may not be sufficient.
“So the Georgetown Hospital renal replacement therapy clinic will offer both Peritoneal and Hemodialysis. It will be a comprehensive renal clinic offering diagnosis for all sort of renal disorders,” he stated.
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