Paidamoyo Chipunza Senior Health Reporter
Government is working on strengthening dialysis services in public health institutions, amid concerns that available services were overwhelmed, forcing patients to seek assistance from the private sector where costs are beyond the reach of many.
In a recent interview with The Herald following repeated concerns by renal patients, Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo said available machines were not only inadequate to cover the whole country, but they also break down consistently, compromising efficiency in service delivery.
Dr Moyo said in light of the challenges, Government was working on implementing a model which has since been approved by Cabinet that will see patients paying reasonable amounts to access services.
“We are looking at improving our dialysis services in the whole country,” he said. “We need to upgrade the machines that we have. We need to have more units in each province so that people do not travel long distances to receive their treatment.”
Dr Moyo acknowledged that costs of dialysis in the private sector were too high for ordinary Zimbabweans, forcing Government to intervene.
“The current costs of services are too high and Government has to come in and give as much support as possible,” he said. “We want to come up with a model, which has already been approved by Cabinet, were dialysis has been considered to be a condition that has to be subsidised.”
To achieve that, Government will soon be flighting a tender for partnerships with interested bidders. Dialysis patients who spoke on condition of anonymity said dialysing units at public health institutions were overwhelmed.
The patients claimed that Harare Central Hospital and Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, which are the only public units providing dialysis in the capital city, were not taking any new patients as they were both fully booked.
“All machines are fully booked and these institutions are not taking in any new patients,” he said. “This means new patients would have to seek services from the private sector.” In the private sector, costs of dialysis sessions range from $800 to $1 400.
Those receiving dialysis services from Government institutions are getting free services after the scrapping of user fees last year.
A person with renal failure is recommended to have at least three sessions of dialysis per week. Each session must be four hours long. A machine should dialyse at least three patients per day.
Apart from Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals and Harare Central Hospital, which have an average of 10 machines each, Mpilo, Marondera, Chinhoyi and Gweru hospitals also have dialysis machines, with each institution not having more than five machines.
An estimated 1 000 people in every one million population develop renal failure.