Ghanaians have reacted to the decision by some state health facilities to increase the cost of dialysis for kidney patients due to the removal of tax exemption on dialysis and high import duties on kidney medications.
The Public Relations Officer(PRO) of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital Mustapha Salifu in an interview on September 27 noted that the cost of dialysis has been increased from GH₵380.00 to GH₵765.42 respectively, citing the removal of tax exemption and high import duties as the reasons for the hike in dialysis.
The Minority Caucus’ spokesperson on health, Kwabena Mintah Akandoh addressing the issue of the increment of dialysis said the decision by Korle-Bu is “illegal and outrageous”, as the hospital cannot set its own fees and charges without parliamentary approval.
Consequently, the management of Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in a statement dated September 27, clarified that the new price review[GH₵380.00 to GH₵765.42] proposal presented by the Renal Dialysis Unit is yet to receive consideration and approval by the Management of Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital.
Thus, “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 fees will be implemented”.
The move by Korle-Bu to review the price of dialysis has not sat well with Ghanaians considering the current economic hardship in the country.
The Ghana Report in an exclusive interview with Ghanaian citizens got their impression about the recent statement by Korle-Bu indicating that management is yet to obtain approval on the cost of dialysis from the Renal Dialysis Unit.
One interviewee by the name, Michael noted that “Already majority of Ghanaians are going through severe hardships and they are unable to feed, let alone think of health care…. Increasing dialysis treatment from Ghc380 to Ghc765 will be very dangerous and impose risks on the lives of kidney patients. In other words, the death toll may rise”.
Another person said, “The decision to review the price of dialysis is outrageous. Dialysis is not something a patient can live without, it is essential to patients, and if it’s very expensive how can citizens afford to undergo dialysis looking at the current economic hardship in the country?”.
The third interview noted, “I didn’t know anyone with this issue[kidney problem] earlier until our lecturer, he was the one I was thinking about when I heard the news. I am pleading with the government, things are hard and healthcare is fundamental in the country so things should be flexible for human life because people are dying and many will die from this if the price is reviewed”.
“I heard taxes are some of the reasons why the price may shoot up and I feel this is insensitive and should be removed immediately for people to have access to healthcare to save lives”.
The fourth interviewee suggested that “The government should intervene and mitigate the financial cost of this dialysis treatment through the Health Insurance Scheme. Even if it’s a minor percentage I believe it can help ease the financial woes of kidney patients. On the part of citizens, I think that we must ensure that we’re eating right and exercising regularly to avert medical conditions such as this”.
The fifth person said, “I believe the increasing cost of dialysis is a concerning issue, as it puts a significant financial burden on patients who rely on this life-saving treatment. Access to essential healthcare services, including dialysis, should be affordable and accessible to all. It’s essential for policymakers and healthcare providers to work together to find solutions that ensure quality care without causing financial hardship for patients”.
The sixth person and a number of persons suggested that the government should include dialysis treatment in the National Health Insurance Scheme(NHIS) to cushion citizens suffering from kidney disease since it is the right of every citizen to access quality healthcare in a country.
Another respondent who spoke to The Ghana Report from the perspective of the alleged increment of dialysis by 101 percent said: “The significant increase in the cost of dialysis treatment at Korle-Bu Hospital, from 380 Ghana cedis to 765 Ghana cedis, representing a 101% hike, is certainly a matter of concern to both kidney patients and the general public in Ghana”.
“Accessibility to Healthcare: Such a steep increase in the cost of treatment can be a barrier to access for many kidney patients who rely on dialysis. Accessibility to healthcare is a fundamental right, and any price increase that limits this access can be detrimental to the well-being of the population”.
“Financial Burden: For kidney patients and their families, managing the cost of dialysis treatment is already a significant financial burden. A further increase will undoubtedly add more strain, possibly pushing some families into financial crisis”.
“Impact on Health: Failure to access timely and affordable dialysis treatment can have dire consequences for individuals with kidney problems. Delaying or avoiding treatment due to high costs can lead to worsening health conditions and complications”.
“Public Health Concern: Kidney disease is a public health concern, and ensuring that adequate treatment is available and affordable is essential for the overall health of the population”.
“Transparency and Communication: It’s important for healthcare institutions and the government to communicate the reasons for such price hikes and ensure transparency in healthcare pricing. Understanding the rationale behind the increase can help alleviate concerns and address any potential issues”.
“Advocacy and Awareness: As a concerned citizen, you can consider participating in or supporting advocacy efforts aimed at addressing healthcare affordability issues in Ghana. Raising awareness about the challenges faced by kidney patients and advocating for policy changes can be effective ways to bring about positive change”.
“Government Intervention: You can also urge government officials and policymakers to look into the matter and explore options to make healthcare, including dialysis treatment, more affordable for all citizens. Public pressure and advocacy can play a crucial role in prompting action”.
In a nutshell, the interview highlighted that “the increase in the cost of dialysis treatment is a matter of concern that deserves attention from both the healthcare authorities and the public. It’s essential to ensure that healthcare remains accessible and affordable for all citizens, especially for critical treatments like dialysis”.