Uganda operates with only 8 nephrologists (kidney doctors) and two dialysis centres to cater for the rising number of kidney related cases.
According to Dr. Joseph Gyagenda Ogavu of St Francis Hospital, Nsambya, there are only 8 nephrologists to cater for over 40m Ugandans, 10 physicians who are not trained in nephrology, but assist in offering kidney treatment and only 50 nurses countrywide. Uganda also has only two dialysis centres to cater for kidney patients with one being Mulago Hospital, Kirrudu and Mbarara Referral Hospital.
“We have proposed to government a budget of Shs568m to establish a dialysis centre in each regional hospital, to save Ugandans from moving to Kirrudu. Shs568m for each regional centre is really affordable considering the high costs of dialysis in a private health centre,” Dr. Gyagenda said.
Gyagenda along with other doctors flanked by the Vice chairperson of Parliamentary Committee on Health, Spellanza Baguma (Kyenjojo Woman MP) were addressing a press conference on Monday at Parliament ahead of the World Kidney Day celebration on Thursday.
In her prayers, MP Baguma called upon government to increase funds for kidney care to cover a huge gap of lack of kidney doctors and few dialysis centres.
“We are only able to handle 0.04% kidney cases. It is even worse that we do not have dialysis services for children meaning that families that can’t take their kids out of country have to wait for death,” Baguma said. She requested government to “regionalize services for kidney treatment to cater for those who can’t move to Kampala or Mbarara. We also need to train more doctors in kidney treatment.”
Apparently, 2 out 10 Ugandans have kidney related problems and most of them cannot get screening or dialysis due to shortage of doctors and centres.
“We want to use preventive measures to fight kidney diseases through use of advocacy measures such as change of lifestyle, diet, and etc,” Joseph Mukasa, public health expert said.
Dr. Grace Kasiime, caretaker of kidney patients at Kirruddu Hospital said that the biggest challenge that kidney patients in Uganda face is accessibility of dialysis services considering that most of them travel long distances to Kampala. Kasiime rallied Ugandans to join them on Thursday at Parliament to celebrate World Kidney Day that will kick off with a procession to Parliament and free screening.