Patients suffering from kidney disease and undergoing routine dialysis at the Buea Haemodialysis Centre staged a protest march to the office of the South West Governor, Thursday, September 8, following a breakdown of the centre.Equipped with eight dialysis generators and accompanied with some of the most recent 4008S machines from the world’s leading dialysis firm, Fresenius Medical Care, patients say for several days now, the Buea Haemodialysis Centre has been unable to carry out dialysis.
“They’re referring us to Bamenda and Douala,” the patients say.
“All the machines are bad. Since yesterday [September 7], we have not been able to get dialysis. I was programmed for dialysis yesterday, but 48 hours after, there is no headway. I come here for dialysis twice a week. We pay FCFA 5,000 per session. We had no choice but to alert the Governor,” said one of the striking patients, whose name we are withholding for professional reasons.
“They seemingly have a nonchalant attitude in this place. We cannot continue to run this country like this. I was supposed to be referred to some other centre, but that has not been done,” another patient snapped.
Six months ago, the centre was shut down for three days; from Monday, March 7 to Wednesday, March 9 due initially to the lack of the dialysis consummate and subsequently on Wednesday, March 9, when the consummate was made available, due to water crisis.
The patients rioted on Wednesday as a result but on Thursday, March 10, the Centre ran fully and patients were able to get 2 hours of dialysis each. On Friday, March 11 and Saturday, March 12, due to the water crisis, the Centre only ran partially. Things only normalised on Monday, March 14.
At the governor’s office, September 8, the governor was presiding at some other meeting. We were told that the Head of Division for Judicial Affairs Bikie Befolo Alain Serges had received representatives of the striking patients.
Though he would not speak in an official capacity, Bikie said the governor is taking all necessary measures to address the issues.
Haemodialysis Centre Head shuns the media. Dr. Ronald Gobina, Head of the Buea Haemodialysis Centre denied our request for an interview, September 8, asking that we present an authorisation from hierarchy or present a valid Press Card.
Buea Regional Hospital Director speaks
Dr. George Enow Orock, Director of the Regional Hospital Annex Buea on September 9 said seven of the eight dialysis machines at the Buea Haemodialysis Centre are bad and need to be repaired or replaced.
“The centre started with eight machines upon its inauguration in 2011 and these machines are programmed to carry out a number of dialysis sessions; maybe 6,000 sessions. Our machines have carried out between 8,000 and 10,000 sessions. The machines are breaking down. We have a technician trained who carries out preventive and corrective maintenance of these machines. The technician has been doing quite a good job,” he said.
He adds that, “The machines are breaking down and the patients are increasing. So you can see that there is a lot of pressure on this centre. A machine can carry out about 10 to 15 dialysis sessions in a day”.
“We have about 30 patients undergoing dialysis in a day. We thought it wise to close the centre and leave that one functional machine for emergency cases,” he said.
With the closure of the Buea Haemodialysis Centre, Enow Orock says patients will now be referred to Bamenda and Douala.
Hear Dr. Enow Orock: “The hospital has done everything administratively and technically to ensure the rapid replacement of these machines or repairs of the existing ones so that they get back to their normal function. Our hierarchy has been notified. We had a meeting with the governor and explained the problem to him. We sent an emergency fax to the minister. We have the assurance from our hierarchy that all is being done so that within the next one to two weeks, we will have machines in the centre.”
On the cost of dialysis, Dr. Enow Orock said: “A session of dialysis costs FCFA 5,000 per patient. At the level of Cameroon, it is costly. Normally our patients are supposed to have three sessions per week, but they have only two because of the logistical insufficiencies. Actually, a dialysis session costs between FCFA 60,000 to FCFA 80,000. The state has subsidized the cost of the procedure enormously.”
Enow Orock says he feels for the patients, but there is not much they can do.
His words: “I feel for the patients. But there’s nothing we can do. I can only reassure our patients and the entire public that the state is doing all it can to let the centre reopen in the shortest possible time.”
He said one of the dialysis machines costs between FCFA 100 to FCFA 200 million.
Dialysis is a procedure that takes up the natural function of the kidney in the body. The kidney is the organ that cleanses the blood of waste products
The patients are put on a dialysis machine that takes over the work of the kidney. The blood is pumped out, purified, and pumped back into the patient.
It is a very delicate, painstaking, and innovative procedure.
Dr. Enow Orock says the creation of haemodialysis centres is part of President Biya’s health legacy. “Dialysis is a lifesaving procedure for kidney patients. Before these centres came, such patients were as good as dead.”
BY TILARIOUS ATIA AZOHNWI
The Sun News Paper