Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Bhutan : Dialysis can’t meet demand

20 August, 2008 - The shortage of kidney dialysis machines in Thimphu referral hospital has reached a critical stage, say health officials.

There are four kidney dialysis machines but an average of 36 patients come for the treatment. One machine can accommodate two patients a day.

Dialysis treatment is for patients, whose kidney has temporarily or permanently lost its function. It does the job of a kidney in voiding body waste.

For 36 patients, there should be at least 108 dialysis sessions, say health officials.

Medical specialist, Dr Tashi Wangdi, said that a patient needs to receive dialysis treatment two to three times a week to be adequately dialysed. But the deficiency has them treating patients once a week. It is also not a short-term, say doctors, but a lifetime treatment.

Patients inadequately dialysed decrease their survival rate, say doctors.

Forty-five-year old Norbu Wangdi from Trashigang said that his daughter, who is suffering from kidney failure, used to get dialysed twice a week but the session has now been reduced to one. “Not many days after the dialysis, she has to come back with fluid overload in her body,” he said. His daughter has been undergoing the treatment in Thimphu for more than ten months.

Behind the shortage, doctors say, is the rising number of chronic kidney disease and diabetes cases in the country. When the dialysis unit opened in Thimphu in 1998, there were only eight patients. Kidney disease is caused by diabetes or high blood pressure.

“The number of patients will increase and we need more machines and more trained staff,” said Dr Tashi Wangdi. He said that the health ministry plans to put up more machines to ease the pressure. The cost of one dialysis machine is about Nu 2.0 million.

There are two dialysis machines each in the Mongar and Gelephu hospitals but they are yet to be used.

By Phuntsho Choden

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