Health Ministry to Develop Kidney Transplant Policy

Story Highlights

  • The Ministry of Health is to formulate a policy aimed at guiding development of a standard kidney transplantation procedure as a viable alternative to haemodialysis for persons afflicted by renal disease.
  • Health Minister, Dr. Ferguson, stated that he will be consulting with Transplant Links Community to secure their contribution to the proposed policy’s drafting, “because we really believe that, whether local or international, we want to develop a policy that is workable (and) sustainable.”
  • A partnership with Transplant Links Community for kidney transplants at Cornwall Regional hospital started in 2013. A key component of the programme is Transplant Links’ training of local surgeons to carry out the operation.

The Ministry of Health is to formulate a policy aimed at guiding development of a standard kidney transplantation procedure as a viable alternative to haemodialysis for persons afflicted by renal disease.

“I’ve already had (some recommendations), and we’re looking now towards developing a national transplant policy, because we believe that that is the way to go,” Portfolio Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, says.

He made the disclosure while speaking on Friday (October 10) at an appreciation function hosted by Sandals Royal Hotel in Montego Bay for United Kingdom-based medical entity, Transplant Links Community, and staff members of the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH), for their successful kidney transplant operations jointly carried out at the local institution for the second consecutive year, in 2014.

Dr. Ferguson stated that he will be consulting with Transplant Links Community to secure their contribution to the proposed policy’s drafting, “because we really believe that, whether local or international, we want to develop a policy that is workable (and) sustainable.”

Meanwhile, the Minister expressed gratitude for the visiting medical team’s support, noting that this should go a far way in putting a dent in the approximately $1.5 million per annum it costs the government to treat each patient accessing dialysis treatment at public health facilities.

Dr. Ferguson also highlighted the financial challenge to renal patients accessing private treatment.

“It’s a burden even for (them) because, at that rate, over time, it could (deplete their resources). I am bombarded, as Minister, almost every day by private patients who should be doing dialysis three times a week, (but are) down to one and two sessions because they just can’t afford it,” he said.

In light of this, Dr. Ferguson commended the transplant initiative being undertaken at the Cornwall Regional Hospital, and gave an undertaking to do everything possible to provide additional assistance in sustaining the programme, while seeking to establish or expand similar undertakings in the other regions.

Dr. Ferguson pointed out that, in advancing dialysis treatment in Jamaica, “we should be looking at (instituting this at) centres of excellence in the different health regions.”

“So, instead of having a mushrooming of everybody wanting to do some dialysis in hospitals, we really need to get it up to best practice (and) best affordable cost for the government, even as we build a transplant programme,” he stated.

One of three patients who received kidney transplants under the Transplant Links/CRH initiative last year, Shaneik Lawson, expressed appreciation for the programme. She also stressed the need for the programme’s continuation to provide other persons with the opportunity to living a normal, healthy life.

The partnership with Transplant Links Community for kidney transplants at Cornwall Regional hospital started in 2013. A key component of the programme is Transplant Links’ training of local surgeons to carry out the operation.

It is expected that within the next two years, beneficiaries of the training will be able to function on their own.

As part of that programme, earlier this year, two surgeons from CRH, Dr. Dwayne Hall and Dr. Roy McGregor, spent time with Transplant Links in Birmingham, England, developing their surgical skills.

The CRH kidney transplant programme receives support from the NHF; the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports, and Education (CHASE) Fund; and Sandals Resorts International.

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