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The Government is moving to improve renal dialysis services to assist patients suffering from renal illnesses to have greater access to facilities and treatment.
Minister of Health and Environment, Rudyard Spencer, in his contribution to the 2008/09 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on June 3, said that existing public units at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) and the Cornwall Regional and Kingston Public Hospitals (KPH) will be expanded. Moreover, a haemodialysis unit will be established at the Mandeville Regional Hospital.
“We will develop peritoneal dialysis throughout the island and train patients to do this at home. We will train nurses on the job in haemodialysis care,” the Minister informed the House.
The Ministry has undertaken a review of renal dialysis services in the country with a view to determining the need for and accessibility to long-term renal replacement therapy and to explore the further development of the existing service.
“The review has shown that about 400 to 600 new cases per million population of chronic renal failure occur in Jamaica per year. We estimate that Jamaica has about 1,170 patients in need of dialysis at any given time,” the Minister said.
This means that some 502 dialysis sessions are required daily, assuming a seven day dialysis programme for each patient. A total of 209 units will be required in the island to meet this demand. There are 98 units in the island, with 52 of these units in the public sector.
The Minister noted that renal dialysis treatment was very expensive and costs an estimated $1 million to dialyse one patient twice per week for one year. This does not include the cost of drugs, transportation and other necessary costs to access the service, which is estimated at an additional $1 million per year.
In April of this year, the Katie Hoo Haemodialysis Centre was opened at the Spanish Town Hospital, while the Bank of Nova Scotia has continued to invest in this and other areas of health care.