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Renal patients cry out for waiver on import duties for Dialysis consumables

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By Rachel Kakraba

Renal Patients in the country are appealing to the government to give a waiver on import duties and other related taxes on dialysis consumables and machines to make cost of treatment affordable to all patients.

They are also asking the government to revise the National Health Insurance Scheme to cover the cost of dialysis treatment. The patients “fellows with renal conditions” made this known at a news conference which discussed the plight of persons suffering from renal failure.

Renal patients require dialysis to remove waste products from the body and regulate electrolyte balance. This is needed by patients to help with the performance of major functions of the kidneys. Patients require dialysis three times a week to have some sort of normal life. This is a cost many patients cannot afford especially as the disease takes a toll on their health making it difficult for some of them to work.

The news conference was to solicit for the support of government and other well-meaning institutions to support the cost of treatment.

Addressing the media one of the convenors, Michael Asante appealed to the government to consider using funds accrued from the Covid Levy to establish a reliable revenue base for the treatment of kidney illnesses and other terminal diseases for Ghanaians.

Mr. Asante noted the disease is now prevalent in Ghana affecting mostly the youthful population. He said the renal unit is faced with frequent shortages of consumables and break-down of machines as a result of the high demand which calls for urgent attention.

“Only a few patients are still working, some are incapacitated by the condition. Others lost their jobs and majority, are unemployed. The high cost of treatment of ESRD already poses huge financial burden on us patients and our families.

Adding on he said “We therefore appeal to government to give a waiver on the import duties and other related taxes on the dialysis consumables and machines. Government must ultimately revise policies on the NHIS to cover costs of dialysis or to heavily subsidise it. We need sustainable policies towards Kidney Disease Management and other terminal diseases, otherwise, Ghana will lose too many citizens, especially its future production power-our youth, to these dreadful conditions”

The news conference comes on the back of a recent increase in dialysis treatment which was the subject matter in public discourse. Although the Korle-bu teaching hospital in a statement backtracked on this one of the convenors, Kojo Ahinkra, alleged he was asked to pay the unapproved fees on Thursday, September 28th.

“As at last week Thursday I went there and I said I wanted to pay for the old price, and I was told in their system they still have the new price. Let me be more specific here, the Out patients normally we are called before we come but since last week when the rumour came out that the price has been increased they have not called us and if you have not been called you cannot walk in and say you’re coming to do dialysis.

Mr. Adinkrah admitted dialysis treatment is capital intensive and said it requires the urgent intervention of government to reduce cost of treatment on patients.

“Realistically when you look at the consumables they are using top notch. But the point is we can’t pay, the 380 somebody was the one supporting us so how much more 765, we can’t pay. That’s why we are saying that the government should come in. We have done a little bit of research and we realize that in other countries the government is absorbing all those things”

GBC NEWS made a follow-up to the Korle-bu Teaching to ascertain the veracity of the claims. Speaking on condition of anonymity the news team was told the facility officially revised to the old fees on Friday, September 29th.

They added patients who were wrongly charged along the line will be reimbursed during other sessions and encouraged all to remain calm.

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