Need to employ sensible health economics?

Our biggest health challenge today is the rising instances of non-communicable diseases (NCD). Almost 60 percent of death in the country is attributed to NCDs. And the threat is growing.

We have a five-year multi-sectorial action plan to address the growing threat of NCDs, which is fast becoming a major health concern, but urgent actions must be taken. The danger is that our plans have a way of becoming paper tigers, gathering dust on the shelves of government offices.

This could, in the long run, have serious impact on the society and our healthcare system. There is thus a compelling need to explore and adopt efficient and effective production and consumption of health and healthcare system.

One of the NCDs that is fast emerging as a major burden on our health system is chronic kidney disease (CKD). It is a disease that damages our kidneys and decreases their ability to keep us healthy. The two leading causes of CKD are diabetes and high blood pressure, which are responsible for up to two-thirds of the cases.

The country spends more than Nu 180 million every year to refer abroad patients with advanced NCD. The burden on the health system will only increase. Our focus so should be to start a local kidney transplantation programme and peritoneal dialysis. Early detection can help prevent the progression of kidney disease to kidney failure.

Having local infrastructure in place will not only save cost but will also improve the quality of life for patients. It would be beneficial in terms of health economics of nephrology care. When patients don’t have to travel far, cost will naturally decrease.

As we develop, these diseases of affluence will be major killers. Already NCDs are the leading cause of death globally. The 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly in 2010 called for a high-level meeting of the General Assembly on the prevention and treatment NCDs.

Peritoneal dialysis and transplantation services is, therefore, critically important. With peritoneal dialysis, patients can administer dialysis anywhere, even at home. The process, according health experts, is also cheaper.

It is about time we employed some sensible health economics.

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