Imminent Increase In Dialysis Cost…
-Corporate Ghana Told
News Desk Report
The issues of renal dialysis have become a burning one, taking cognisance of the fact that patients have to cough up huge amounts of money in order to access the facility – some patients have to go for dialysis treatment sometimes three times in a week.
This concern has been highlighted once again due to the planned increase in the cost of renal dialysis from GH¢380 to GH¢765.42. [over 100% increment].
Even though, the planned increment is yet to receive approval from Parliament, lots of Ghanaians including patients have been speaking against such a move, which they consider to be highly detrimental, owing to the fact that most of the patients are poor and struggle to go for treatment.
To this end, they are calling on authorities, and indeed, Corporate Ghana to emulate the shining example of the First Sky Group, headed by Mr. Eric Seddy Kutortse, which they say has been of tremendous support to them by taking care of bills for the past eight  years.
This assertion by the public has been corroborated by authorities of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital [KBTH] who have made a passionate appeal to Corporate Ghana and philanthropic individuals and organisations to come to their aid by emulating the humane gesture of the First Sky Group.
Public Speaks Up
Reacting to the planned increment, some members of the public have been airing their views.
For instance, a patient who spoke with Accra-based Citi FM said, “Even the GH¢380 they can’t afford and today you can see that GH¢765, then people are going to die. When you look at the situation even for Korle Bu to do some subsidy on this dialysis is possible because patients cannot pay even GH¢380.”
“I got alarmed by that particular notice because I know people who go for dialysis sometimes three times a week and they need to do that 12 times in a month. So if a person has to do that 12 times a month and they have to pay in excess of 700 just to do a simple calculation. That is huge.”
“You need to have lots of money to sustain that. So that is Korle Bu signing the death sentences of persons who go to Korle Bu for dialysis”, another worried patient said.
Korle-Bu On Increment
Meanwhile, Management of KBTH has blamed the planned increment on hikes in taxes on consumables.
According to the Public Relations Officer for the hospital, Mustapha Salifu, the institution was hitherto exempted from payment of taxes on items used by the Unit [Renal] but recently stopped.
“Previously some of the variables were actually being taken care of by the state. But now we have had to pay for everything ourselves and all those things are factored into it.
“We used to clear these items, we used to get to tax exemptions when we were clearing these items. But now you have to pay for the import duty and other taxes that are related to it”, he pointed out.
According to him, given the high cost of operation by the Unit, should the dialysis unit decide to provide services without increasing the price, the Unit would eventually be forced to close down.
He explained the motive behind the increment was not profit making but to sustain the operations of the unity so as to provide quality services to its patients.
Fron the look of things, the increment may be replicated in other regional hospitals.
Association Applauds First Sky
Recently, the Ghana Kidney Association applauded the tremendous contribution of the Executive Chairman of the First Sky Group, Eric Seddy Kutortse, for single-handedly solving about a quarter of the nation’s dialysis cases.
As it has come to light; the Group Chairman has spent over Thirty Million Ghana Cedis (GH¢30,000,000.00) on the Free Dialysis Project, in addition to paying for the cost of some kidney transplant operations, the latest being two kidney patients who successfully underwent operations on July 4 and July 5, 2023, at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.
It is in recognition of this and many more that the Ghana Kidney Association honoured Mr. Kutortse, last year, describing his humanitarian gesture as legendary, and urged others to emulate his shining example.
‘Through your support many individuals, families and communities have been positively impacted and the Ghana Kidney Association is grateful for your immense contribution to the care of persons with kidney disease in Ghana’, a citation from the Kidney Association accompanying the award said.
Recently, Eric Seddy Kutortse, reiterated his company’s promise and determination to fully fund the establishment of a world class kidney transplant centre in the country as a long-term solution to addressing the challenges associated with the treatment of kidney dysfunction in the country.
Mr. Kutortse announced that, currently, a joint working committee whose membership comprises staff of KBTH and First Sky Group have been tasked to ensure the realisation of the project had been put in place.
The committee is in the process of submitting a budget for approval for the establishment of the centre and a training programme for the team of local professionals who would man the facility. This is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
These updates on the establishment of the Kidney Transplant Centre were disclosed during a media briefing session to announce the successful kidney transplant procedure for two patients by a team of Ghanaian health experts at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital led by Professor Matthew Kyei.
The successful kidney transplant operations involved two recipient males and two donor females, all fully funded by First Sky Group.
Mr. Kutortse reasoned that the establishment and operationalisation of a modern Kidney Transplant Centre in Ghana, the first of its kind in West Africa, to serve patients within the country and the sub-region who otherwise would have been flown to India, South Africa or elsewhere for medical attention would open access to affordable quality kidney dysfunction care while saving the economy millions of hard foreign currencies.
In 2016, the First Sky Group decided to support the Renal Dialysis Unit of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra by paying off all the medical bills of all patients at the facility and instituted free dialysis for patients who frequent the Unit and could not afford to pay for treatment.
“Many beneficiaries would have either lost their lives or would have been incapacitated by challenges with their kidney dysfunction. Since the inception of the programme to date, the First Sky Group has spent over Thirty Million Ghana Cedis (GH¢30,000,000.00) on the Free Dialysis Project’ Mr. Kutortse noted.
Mr. Kutortse stressed that First Sky Group remained committed to funding continuous free care and treatment to patients at the Renal Dialysis Unit at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) as well as free kidney transplants to those unable to afford the procedure once they met the KBTH criteria.
For his part, the Chief Executive of KBTH, Dr. Opoku Ware Ampomah indicated that to ensure best practices and standards were adhered to, the hospital had in place an ethics committee made up of surgeons, lawyers and other professionals, who certified that all necessary compliance protocols were strictly respected as a quality assurance mechanism to protect the hospital from any legal and ethical challenges in kidney transplantation procedures which would be fully managed and performed by local experts.
Dr. Ampomah emphasised following the successful procedures, the hospital was working assiduously in consultation with stakeholders to institute a legal regime for organ harvesting and donation to save lives.
Lead transplant experts, Prof. Matthew Kyei, Prof. James. E. Mensah and Prof. Vincent Boima took turns at the media briefing to share insights and updates on developments in kidney transplantation procedures and progress notes on the patients who were said to be extremely well after the surgeries. They further intimated that the hospital planned to carry out another batch of kidney transplant operations in August 2023 involving three patients.
Earlier in 2022 at the 19th Annual Thanksgiving service of the First Sky Group, Mr. Kutortse had made a passionate appeal to Government to consider making at least two sessions of dialysis treatment cost, a part of the medical services covered by the National Health Insurance Scheme.
Emulate First Sky
Recently, President Akuffo-Addo urged indigenous companies to emulate the shining example of the First Sky Group in its service delivery.
In a speech read on his behalf by the Minister of Roads and Highways, Mr Kwesi Amoako Atta, at the 20th anniversary thanksgiving service of the Group in Accra, on Sunday, January 8, 2023, the President commended the company on its contribution in the area of health care, particularly, the goal to set up a world class kidney transplant facility in the country, which would be the first of its kind in the West African sub-region.
“This, surely, when realised, should improve the quality of life of these patients, the majority of whom are a young, economically productive group of the Ghanaian society and who can potentially be integrated back into society with adequate treatment,” he added.
About First Sky
Established in 2003 as a wholly owned Ghanaian entity, the First Sky Group comprises of First Sky Construction Limited, First Sky Commodities Limited, First Sky Bitumen Processing Limited, Volta Serene Hotel, Serene Insurance Company Limited, Frerol Rural Bank, and First Sky Energy Limited.
It has a total work force of over 3,800 stationed at various sites, offices and locations across the length and breadth of the country.