Korle-Bu Pushing Patients Into Early Grave
…But Abandons Cost of Dialysis Increment After Public Backlash
Kidney patients receiving dialysis treatment at the Renal Dialysis Unit (RDU) of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) will have to cough up more cash to continue receiving treatment or risk dying, because the cost of this procedure has been increased astronomically to about 101 percent.
It follows a shocking decision by the management of the nation’s premier facility to increase the cost from GH₵380 to GH₵765.42 per session, with many asking why the treatment is still not included in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
This means that, a patient who previously received treatment three (3) times a week would now have to cough up some GH₵2, 296.26 a week and GH₵9, 185.04 a month, to be treated for kidney dysfunction.
But after massive public backlash, following the announcement of the new fee, the hospital hurriedly made a U-turn, claiming the new fee was just a proposal, and it has to be sent to Parliament through the Ministry of Health for approval before its implementation.
In a statement issued yesterday evening, September 27, the hospital said “This is to inform the general public and our patients that a price review proposal presented by the Renal Dialysis Unit is yet to receive consideration and approval by Management of Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.”
According to the statement, “Any proposed fee will be forwarded to Parliament through the Ministry of Health for approval. It is only after the due parliamentary approval that any revised fees will be implemented.”
Interestingly, prior to the U-turn, Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the hospital, Mustapha Issifu, had fiercely justified the increment on Joy News on Tuesday, September 26.
Other reports also indicate that the hospital had earlier engaged these kidney patients in a meeting, prevailing on them to accept the new increment so that the unit is not shut down.
No parliamentary approval
The Anchor gathered that, the withdrawal follows revelation by the Ranking Member on the Health Committee in Parliament, Kwabena Mintah Akandoh, that the committee has absolutely no knowledge of the increment and instructed that a quick withdrawal be made and seek parliamentary approval before taking any action.
Mr. Mintah Akandoh, who is the Member of Parliament (MP) Juaboso constituency, told Accra FM that, he has placed a call to management, ordering them to do the needful or they march to the Hospital for action next Monday.
Many, especially patients, are reeling and devastated, following the announcement days ago.
They say the astronomical increment will mean that they are signing up their death warrant, because they cannot afford the treatment any longer, as most of these patients are unable to work any longer due to their condition.
But for the latest development, dialysis patients would have been coughing up GH₵2, 296.26 a week and GH₵9, 185.04 a month, to receive their treatment.
This is aside from the routine drugs, labs, transport to the centre, cost of the femoral/neckline, regular admissions and others, covering just the sickness alone.
It is unclear, how much is being charged at the private hospitals at the moment, because, according to reports, Korle-Bu’s charge, until the recent increment, was the cheapest one can get.
But The Anchor’s monitoring of the situation has revealed that, while the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital was charging GH₵380, the private hospitals were previously charging GH₵550 per session.
According to report, in Ghana, 10 percent of out-patient department (OPD) cases are kidney failures.
Insiders told The Anchor, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr. Opoku Ware Ampomah, in particular, is not helping matters at the helm of affairs in the management of the hospital, leaving lots of issues in disarray.
The earlier explanation by the Public Relations Officer, said the increment is as a result of the removal of tax exemptions by government and high import duties on machines and consumables imported mainly from Europe.
Confirming a notice of the increment that went viral on the internet over the weekend, showing the upward adjustment, Mustapha Issifu said failure to make the increment would have amounted to a total shutdown of the Renal Dialysis Unit.
The notice on a piece of paper by the head of unit reads, “Cost of Dialysis has been increased from GH¢380 to over GH¢765.42.”
He said the new charge could have even gone higher, but for the fact that the facility is a public one and the poor relied on, and so management had to be a little considerate.
“If you do a real analysis of the cost you will get about GH₵850. Previously, it was down because the variables were being taken care of by the state but now, we have to pay the cost ourselves and all these things have been factored into the cost,” Mr. Salifu told Joy FM.
Adding, he said “There used to be a tax exemption but now it’s no more and we have to pay the import duties also ourselves which were all previously paid by the government.
“If we say we want to run it as it used to be then we have to shut down the dialysis plant if we don’t increase the price.”
He said the increment is not because the facility wants to make profits out of the treatment, but because things that have been factored into the cost are now very expensive.
“What we are doing is not like we want to make a profit but the real assessment of the cost as I said will be like GH₵850, but we need to cushion the patients a bit and so we think settling on GH₵765 is what we can manage,” Mr. Salifu added.
Cost in 2016
The last time there was expression of outrage concerning treatment of dialysis at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital was in 2016, when management adjusted the cost from GH₵190 to GH₵260, a difference of GH₵70.
They had, at the time, also attributed the increment to price hikes in procuring consumables from Germany.
“Approval has been granted by management of the hospital to increase treatment cost of dialysis from current cost of GH₵190 to GH₵250….. Any inconvenience caused is deeply regretted,” the poster read in parts.
Dr. Adam Atiku of the Renal and Dialysis Unit, KBTH, at the time, disclosed that the Dialysis Unit records 20 new cases of kidney failure every day, 60 new cases of kidney failures every week, and 100 people under dialysis every day.
First Sky Group
It is also unclear, whether the First Sky Group, a leading private construction company, which has been financing medical bills of dialysis patients at Korle-Bu for some time now, has stopped the humanitarian project.
The company, through its executive chairman, Mr. Eric Seddy Kutortse, has so far expended some GH¢26million on providing free dialysis treatment to at least 300 patients at the premier hospital.
The group, in 2017, moved to support the worthy cause by paying off all the medical bills of all patients at the facility and instituted free dialysis for patients who frequent the unit.
More to Come…