By Charity Ruzvidzo
Patients with renal failure will be afforded an opportunity to access renal treatment following the move by government to remove the exorbitant fees.
Renal failure refers to impaired kidney function in which the kidneys fail to adequately filter metabolic wastes from the blood.
Health experts say the removal of waste through the dialysis process is essential, if not removed; the patient swells up and dies.
Prior to the scrapping off of the fees, the dialysis process was charged at $250 per session at private hospitals and at least $80 at public hospitals.
The Minister of Health and Child Care Dr David Parirenyatwa said as part of the government’s effort to move towards universal coverage the renal dialysis is now free in the country.
He said free renal dialysis has started in all the central hospitals.
“We have started this roll out in the central hospitals; Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, Harare Hospital and Mpilo Hospital. We will be rolling out this service to all our hospitals where there are dialysis machines.
"Such services, such as dialysis machines and these free services will not apply to patients who are on medical aid and those patients who can afford to pay if such people could honour their payments this would go a long way towards contributing into our health sector,” said Dr Parirenyatwa.
In addition to the free renal dialysis treatment, the Government recently declared free blood for all patients.
Treatment of chronic kidney disease in SADC is dire.
According to the World Health Organisation this is largely due to the high cost of dialysis and few facilities to perform transplants.
In South Africa only three public hospitals offer kidney transplants.
Botswana has a Kidney Society that is dedicated to preventing kidney diseases, improving health and well-being of individuals and families affected by kidney disease.
Despite this , the accessibility of renal treatement centres in country remains a challenge.
In April this year, Zambia reported that the number of kidney patients was increasing in the country.
According to the University Teaching Hospital (UTH), the largest hospital in Zambia that serves as the main referral centre for tertiary level of care for the entire country, in 2016 and 2017 recorded 8,000 and 12,000 patients respectively at the dialysis unit indicating a significant increase in the number of patients with kidney disease.
The Zambian government has stated the need to expand the number of dialysis services currently available in the country to cater for all the kidney patients.
Health experts say in a bid to tackle the kidney failure challenge in the region there is a need to invest in treatment facilities and raise awareness on its causes and risks.