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KATH faces dialysis machine shortage, redirects patients

The Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi, Ashanti Region, is grappling with a critical shortage of dialysis machines, prompting the redirection of patients to private medical facilities.

Presently, only one dialysis machine is fully operational at the hospital supporting another one riddled with technical challenges.

KATH is a referral hospital for 12 of the 16 regions in the country. Its nephrology unit is in dire need of the necessary tools to operate effectively despite its relevance.

Touching on the state of the healthcare infrastructure, the Chief Executive Officer at KATH, Dr Otchere Addai-Mensah, revealed the agonising choice to limit dialysis treatment to only in-patients of the hospital.

Dr Addai-Mensah described the decision as one of the most difficult since his tenure, underscoring the severity of the situation at the renowned medical institution.

He explained that currently, KATH only has one and a half dialysis machines. One is operating at full capacity while the other works partially due to technical hitches. As a result, KATH was unable to accommodate patients referred from other hospitals for dialysis treatment.

“The truth is that we at Komfo Anokye presently use one and a half dialysis machines because one is working at full capacity and the other is working at fault.

“What this means is that, we are no longer able to accept patients from other hospitals for treatment. Dialysis in this hospital is restricted to only in- patients”, he stated.

Detailing the gravity of the situation, Dr. Addai-Mensah highlighted the time-intensive nature of dialysis treatment. Each session requires four hours.

Thus with limited machines and an increasing number of patients in need of care, the hospital faced the harrowing prospect of being unable to provide life-saving treatment to all those requiring it.

“One of the most difficult calls I have had to make as a chief executive was when I was approached by my medical director who posed the question if it was okay to send patients who needed dialysis to other facilities.

“For each dialysis session, it takes four hours and so if you have two machines in-house and five patients who need treatment, what it means is that, by the time it gets to the fifth person, they probably would have knocked off,” he added.

The President of the Renal Patients Association, Kojo Baffuor Ahenkora expressed concern over the situation, noting that patients were receiving inadequate treatment due to limited machine availability and rising costs.

“Some patients are getting one slot a week instead of the two sessions because the patients are many. We need more machines in the system and we’ve heard prices will be going up soon. Already, it is something we cannot even pay,” he said.

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