Ministry of Health permanent secretary Solange Hakiba (R) chats with Dr Milanga Mwanatambwe (L), an advisor to Tokushukai, and CHUK's Dr Richard Kyamatare. This was at the inauguration of the hemodialysis centre at University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK), yesterday. (Doreen Umutesi)

Ministry of Health permanent secretary Solange Hakiba (R) chats with Dr Milanga Mwanatambwe (L), an advisor to Tokushukai, and CHUK?s Dr Richard Kyamatare. This was at the inauguration of the hemodialysis centre at University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK), yesterday. (Doreen Umutesi)

The equipment was donated by a team from Japan?s Tukushukai Medical Corporation, with 10 going to the University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK), while the rest will go to the University Teaching Hospital of Butare (CHUB).

The handover ceremony, yesterday,  also served as an occasion to officially inaugurate a hemodialysis centre at the CHUK.

So far, 40 patients have received treatment from there.

Speaking at the function, Dr Theophile Dushime, the director general of clinical and public health services at the Ministry of Health, said the equipment would help treat kidney patients who previously had no access to treatment locally.

He said even though the services are expensive, it was necessary to put in place a local treatment centre.

?It is a few patients who can access the service; that is why the Government is looking for ways to make the services more accessible. Even though the treatment is expensive, at least this step is taken ? to create the centre where patients can access treatment ? other problems will be dealt with gradually,? Dr Dushime said.

A patient using the equipment for the first time pays between Rwf170,000 and Rwf180,000, while the subsequent charge is between Rwf100,000 and Rwf120,000.

A patient has to use the equipment thrice a week.

Celestin Nkurikiyinka, a kidney patient who lives in Gasabo District, said the equipment has helped him a lot.

?But I have a challenge of sustaining treatment because it is expensive. I started treatment when I had Rwf4 million, but I am now remaining with only Rwf350,000, yet I have no other sure means of income,? Nkurikiyinka said.

Dr Richard Kyamatare, an expert in kidney treatment at CHUK, explained that the equipment ?work like kidneys? and help people with kidney diseases to filter blood and excrete urine.

Usually, kidneys perform the essential function of removing waste products from the blood and regulating water fluid levels.

These equipment help patients whose kidney diseases have not yet become chronic.

And for those who have chronic kidney diseases, the equipment, too, are used to filter waste from blood before it (waste) reaches the brain, which can lead to comma, he said.

Dr Solange Hakiba, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health, appealed to insurance companies in the country to help patients access these services.

Hemodialysis is the most common way to treat advanced kidney failure.

The procedure can help one carry on an active life despite failing kidneys.

Hemodialysis requires a person to follow a strict treatment schedule, take medication regularly and usually make changes in diet.

Healthy kidneys clean blood and remove extra fluid in the form of urine. They also make substances that keep the body healthy. Dialysis replaces some of these functions when the kidneys no longer function.

DONAH MBABAZI, The New Times

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