Kidney disease fatalities on the rise

Health: Hospital records show that kidney failure related deaths in the country is on the rise.

There were 25 kidney failure related deaths across the country last year.

According to the health ministry’s Annual Health Bulletin 2015, there were 59 kidney and genital disorders related deaths in 2015.

Health secretary Dr Ugen Dophu said that with the increase in non-communicable diseases (NCD) in the country, kidney failure cases have also increased. Of the 151 patients who require dialysis treatment today, the national referral hospital in Thimphu alone has about 109 patients, of which, 93 patients come to avail the service as out patients.

Some 100 patients undergo dialysis treatment at the national referral hospital on a daily basis.

The central regional referral hospital in Gelephu and eastern regional referral hospital in Mongar have 22 and 20 patients respectively. On an average, about 13 patients are provided dialysis treatment in the central referral hospital and about 17 patients in the eastern regional referral hospital.

He explained that the patients not getting the required treatment sessions because of the limited number of hemodialysis machines is not the cause of the kidney failure related deaths. “There are many factors that cause for the kidney failure related deaths.”

He pointed out that even if a kidney patient is given the required number of hemodialysis treatment sessions, some patients don’t survive because of unexpected complications during treatments.

As standard practice, dialysis treatment is normally administered for three to four hours a session and three sessions are required in a week.

“There are no complaints from the patients regarding not getting the required session of treatment from the hospital,” he said. “With the donation from the private donors, the hospitals currently have adequate machines and nurses for 151 kidney patients.”

The national referral hospital in Thimphu has 14 dialysis machines as of today. The central regional referral hospital and eastern regional referral hospital have three and five machines respectively.

Meanwhile, there are some 17 trained nurses to operate the dialysis machines.

However, he said that not all 151 patients require three sessions a week. Some of the patient’s kidneys function to some extent and they require two or one session in a week.

He said that medically, the progression of the kidney disease can’t be stopped. However, there are some patients who listen to medical advice on diet control and get proper treatment because of which the status of their kidney failure remains the same since it was diagnosed.

“Once you reach the stage where your kidneys stop functioning well, the problems are big for the government, the patient and family,” he said. “Looking for a donor is not easy.”

He said that prevention is the best and easy way out from kidney disease. Kidney failure can be due to NCDs and infections, among others.

Records with the health ministry show that as of 2014, some 50,064 people suffer from various NCDs like cancers, hypertension, diabetes, heart and alcohol liver diseases.

People who have urinary problems or those having multiple sexual partners are advised to go to the hospital and check for infections. The bladder infection, if not treated on time, gets to the kidney and leads to kidney failure, he said

The patient and the family have to look for a donor within a specific period of time. The hospital normally gives six months to a year time to look for a donor.

“The government cannot provide life-long dialysis services to the kidney failure patients,” Dr Ugen Dophu said.

The cost per session is about Nu 3,500 for a patient, which means it costs about Nu 10,500 for three sessions in a week. In a year, the government spends about Nu 546,000 for hemodialysis treatment excluding the expenditure on other medications.

He explained that with the completion of the construction of a four-storey dialysis centre below the national referral hospital in Thimphu, providing treatment to the kidney patients will become easier.

Once complete, the 24-bed dialysis centre will cater to those kidney patients who come from home to the hospital for hemodialysis treatment.

The current dialysis unit at the national referral hospital, which has eight beds, will provide dialysis treatment to those kidney patients admitted in the referral hospital.

Currently, some 10 nurses are being trained to operate the dialysis machines in Bangkok.

The six hemodialysis machines donated by the Rotary Club of Thimphu last month, will be installed in the new centre.

A machine costs about Nu 950,000 and the hemodialysis chair would cost almost the same amount.

Dechen Tshomo

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