The government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines will charge patients EC$250 each time they undergo haemodialysis at the Modern Medical and Diagnostic Centre (MMDC) in Georgetown.
The price represents half of what the private sector charges for the same service.
Idinger Miller, deputy hospital administrator, Hospital Services, with responsibility for the MMDC told iWitness News last Friday that haemodialysis is scheduled to commence at the centre today, Wednesday.
Four patients have been identified, but she said that there is a possibility that only two will go through the life-saving procedure today.
The centre began operation last week Tuesday, one day after it was officially opened.
The EC$42 million centre opened seven years behind schedule.
In the years 2015 and 2016, a total of 53 persons died as a result of kidney disease, according to Minister of Health, Senator Luke Browne.
Speaking at last week’s opening, Browne noted that the MMDC will be the first public facility to do haemodialysis in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“This is no doubt good news for Vincentians who need this type of treatment, and who would otherwise have a hard time affording it in the private sector,” he said.
The minister said the cost of haemodialysis to an individual varies between EC$30,000 and EC$72,000 per year.
“A person with kidney disease can live a relatively normal life if the appropriate treatment is available and affordable. One of the government’s goals is to prevent avoidable deaths by improving the quality of healthcare in SVG. The Modern Medical and Diagnostic Centre helps the state to achieve this goal,” Browne said.
He said that his government wants persons with kidney disease and other health conditions to be able to access the services they need to live as normal a life as possible.
“We take to heart the words of the current Director-General of the World Health Organisation, an Ethiopian by the name of Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who reminded us in a campaign speech at the World Health Assembly in 2017 that persons who need dialysis do not have to die, and they need not become poverty stricken trying to pay for very expensive medical care. They can live a fairly normal life, and that will be the new reality in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”
Browne said that the government is happy that it has expanded access to haemodialysis in SVG.
“… but we know that dialysis for the kidney patient is meant to be a temporary solution, and we should think about being able to perform kidney transplants. We must not be satisfied with anything but the best in the world,” he said.
Even at the price of $250 per session, and with a nominal 3 sessions per week, the yearly charge will be $39,000. May I ask who will be able to afford those charges?. The charges above will be in addition to transportation charges to the centre, so I would think that only the very rich will be able to afford dialysis unless insurance schemes are put in place to mitigate these expenses. So as a country we have to rapidly move towards transplants from suitable donors, even in first world countries patients die waiting for transplants, so the temporary/permanent solution will need to be affordable dialysis.
The message is loud and clear: fu*k the poor.
Isn’t this a lot cheaper than private sector? Please give the government some credit
WTF! A good example, of bad business planning. ( This, ought to be thought in Schools, to ensure that candidates don’t lie on their marketing plan then, expect poor people to pay for it.) I would like to ask this: Was the Medical Center paid for with taxpayers money? Why was the Medical Center built at Georgetown?
This appears to be a good venture by the government. Having the price half that of the private sector seems great though still pretty expensive! So some hope for kidney patients. However. the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital continues to be in dire need of much assistance! Too little medication and below standard service. It has been that way for years. And there seems to be no genuine effort in trying to improve that situation. Too many unnecessary deaths happen there. Outside doctors and other health personnel can and do testify to such. How ridiculous!
The government should indeed be given credit for the introduction of dialysis for kidney patients, but the question we all should answer, is who will benefit from its introduction. Will it be the rich who will have treatment at a reduced price? It will certainly not be the average citizen whose salary does not even come close to meeting a yearly charge of $39000 for treatment. Even if the working poor gave up meals, accommodation, other medical expenses, they would still be unable to afford treatment, so their position will not change. I am of the opinion that we all have a duty to try and offer solutions rather than only highlighting problems, so here is my two cents for what it is worth, a levy of $10 per month should be placed on all citizens of working age to fund this centre, together with a means of applying means testing so that those who have the means would pay more and those who did not would be exempt from unaffordable and ruinious charges. After all we all have a right to health, no matter what our financial status is.
Great venture for the people of St .Vincent looking back at no access to dialysis to a now fully functioning dialysis unit, but how many people can afford that price. dialysis is not a once a month procedure, it something that done 3 times a week , so a person will have to pay at least $ 750 .00 per week , that’s $ 3000 per month. sounds like only the rich will be the only one to survive. hope the government will be able to come up with something more affordable for the ones that cannot pay.
Why do we not introduce medical bequest schemes for conscious Vincentians who wish to bequeath organs at the time of their passing to help those who are still alive but who urgently require viable organs . We could do this in tandem with setting up the infrastructure to facilitate storage of organs prior to transplants with the necessary training of individuals to do these operations. In the meantime the skills gap could be closed with help from our regional nieghbours whilst we get up to speed on our knowledge base. Anther two cents worth of solutions to what will become a problem if not addressed in a timely fashion.
I do not have kidney problems. I thank God after reading the comments here! Even if the price is reduced it is too expensive even for middle-class. What is the point of this treatment when middle-class people spend the rest of our life working only for treatment. I do not mention the poor because obviously they are going to die. I read what “concerned citizen” wrote, that we should all pay yet another tax. Not only will that tax not be used for the treatment, but put into other areas to benefit certain politicians (mis-directed), (what has been happening for thousands of years), but it will cause many to say that we should then also charge taxes to fund other medical problems for other people. Any way it is looked at someone is going to lose and only the politicians stand to win.
With regard to the comment by Lostpet above, I will agree on a certain amount of naivety on my part as to whether unscrupulous governments of whatever political persuasion might divert these levies/extra taxes for other purposes. But if the required “wirefences” were put in place with proper auditing then this could be a partial solution to squaring a cost financial circle as regards affordability of medical services. In the UK a levy of sorts is applied to workers to fund the National Health Services through national insurance contributions. This is a percentage of earnings and helps the government to fund the hospitals etc. This is not voluntary, but a legal requirement, failure to pay would mean no access to health services. This might sound harsh, as some people might have some difficulty in payments, exceptions would be given to the old and young but all other workers would have to pay. If we consider how much money is paid to Flow, Digicel, and other non-essential “wallet lighteners” then it is obvious that such a scheme could be afforded by most. I do not pretend to have all the answers, but we do have to think outside of the box if we wish to have even a basic health service. The only alternative to this would be to accept that poor, kidney disease sufferers, will have to die through not been able to afford the charges for treatment, also that we have a hospital that is not fit for purpose through a lack of funding and equipment. Government can only spend money that is collected via taxes or borrowing (NIS, or international) or begging foreign donors. Government can however increase the amount of taxes collected by putting in place systems that make sure that all workers ( building trade, lawyers, doctors etc) pay their fair share of taxes, also those who commit fraud, such as not passing on VAT payments to the tax authorities are sent to prison and not be given amnesty. People who steal are regularly punished with jail sentences so those people above who steal from the citizens of this country should also be jailed. I am rambling a bit here but I get so incensed when I see things like unaffordable health charges, and poor health services when a lot of these issues could be mitigated by more efficient and robust and fair tax collection. Someone once wrote “that we get the government that we deserve” we all deserve better from our elected officials no matter what party.
Congratulations to the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines for taking the necessary steps to construct this facility. While persons are saying that the fee is still too high it is indeed lower than the private medical centres fees.
On the other hand the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines must continue to take measures to sustain their health by practicing healthy eating habits, healthy lifestyles and the likes in order to lower their chances of suffering from kidney diseases and other health related diseases which may affect their health in the years to come.
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