JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Heart Foundation of Jamaica (HFJ) is expressing concern that persons who have preventable conditions that lead to renal failure are putting pressure on the limited dialysis resources in the country.
  • Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ on January 29, Executive Director of the HFJ, Mrs. Deborah Chen, explained that persons with preventable kidney diseases are creating additional demand for renal treatment.
  • She was speaking against the background of one of the findings from the Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey (JHLS) III (2016-2017), which found that high blood pressure is the leading cause of end-stage renal failure in Jamaica.

The Heart Foundation of Jamaica (HFJ) is expressing concern that persons who have preventable conditions that lead to renal failure are putting pressure on the limited dialysis resources in the country.

Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ on January 29, Executive Director of the HFJ, Mrs. Deborah Chen, explained that persons with preventable kidney diseases are creating additional demand for renal treatment.

She was speaking against the background of one of the findings from the Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey (JHLS) III (2016-2017), which found that high blood pressure is the leading cause of end-stage renal failure in Jamaica.

“We find that in many cases, there are persons in the facilities who now have renal failure as a result of a preventable condition, which is hypertension, that could have been screened, prevented and treated,” Mrs. Chen said.

“Those persons are using the same facilities as persons who have no control over the fact that they have chronic kidney disease (CKD), such as those who have Lupus or some other type of infection that might have led their kidneys to fail,” she lamented.

The Executive Director said that it is imperative to do all that is possible to prevent persons from getting hypertension through regular screening.

She pointed out that screening is available at health centres, the HFJ’s Beechwood Avenue offices in Kingston, and islandwide through its mobile unit.

Mrs. Chen pointed out that the average age of persons with high blood pressure has been getting lower over the years and that persons should get screened at least once per year.

“If you are hypertensive and need medication, you have to stay on your medication, and if you have side effects, you must go back to your doctor. There are many types of medication,” she pointed out.

Mrs. Chen made a special appeal to men who do not take their medication out of fear of erectile dysfunction.

“There are so many medications available now. If you have negative effects, you may go back to your doctor, but do not stop taking it. Tell them the issues that you are having and they will make a change accordingly, but do not stay there until the pressure is out of control and you have much bigger issues to deal with,” she warned.

These, she said, include heart attacks and strokes, which are widely known; however, it may also lead to renal failure, which will most likely require dialysis.

“I don’t think many countries can afford to have a large percentage of their population on dialysis three times a week, so the reality is that the resources are limited in that area and some persons may not be able to have the amount of dialysis per week that they require, so let us focus on prevention,” she emphasised.

Mrs. Chen pointed out that dialysis costs $12,000 to $15,000 per session, which is very expensive, especially when it is needed up to three times per week.