Myjoyonline.com published a story about fifteen children who have tragically lost their lives due to the lack of dialysis machines and consumables at the Tamale Teaching Hospital. The health officials at the facility explained that the shortage of dedicated machines for children forced them to use adult ones, resulting in this unfortunate incident.
In an interview on Wednesday, December 6, Adam Yahaya Wanzam, the Nurse Manager of the Tamale Teaching Hospital Dialysis Unit expressed his distress over the situation. He urgently appealed to the government for assistance to prevent the continuation of this distressing trend.
“We have lost over 10 to 15 children who were supposed to receive dialysis. But for a lack of paediatric machines, we were improvising with the adult machines and the adult machines and consumables are not for children.” Mr Wanzam emphasised that the repercussions of this shortage are heart-breaking, affecting not just the children who lost their lives but also their families, who now bear the unbearable pain of such a tragic loss.
There has been a public outcry in Ghana over the recent difficulties and increased costs associated with accessing dialysis. The attempt by the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH), for instance, to raise the dialysis fees, faced strong resistance from the public, who viewed the move as potentially fatal for many kidney patients. Reports indicate that during the period when KBTH closed its renal unit for several weeks, due to indebtedness, 19 patients lost their lives.
The death of these children is an unspeakable tragedy that underscores a stark reality plaguing our healthcare system. This heartbreaking incident sheds light on a systemic issue that has far-reaching implications for the health and well-being of our citizens, especially the most vulnerable among us.
According to recent reports from the Ministry of Health, a staggering number of hospitals, especially in regional and district areas, lack the necessary dialysis machines and consumables to adequately cater for patients suffering from kidney-related conditions.
In a country where chronic kidney disease prevalence is on the rise, with an estimated 13 percent of adults affected, the scarcity of dialysis facilities exacerbates an already dire situation. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that over 4,000 Ghanaians require dialysis treatment annually. However, the limited availability of machines often means that only a fraction of these individuals receive the life-saving treatment they desperately need.
The consequences of this shortfall in dialysis equipment are devastating, as evidenced by the recent tragedy in Tamale. Families have been shattered, communities left in mourning and the loss of these young lives serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need for immediate action to prevent such avoidable deaths in future.
It’s imperative to acknowledge the challenges faced by healthcare institutions in resource allocation. The costs associated with acquiring and maintaining dialysis machines, along with ensuring a steady supply of consumables, pose significant financial burdens on hospitals, particularly those in less affluent regions.
However, these challenges cannot overshadow the fundamental right to healthcare that every Ghanaian deserves. The loss of these children due to the unavailability of essential medical equipment demands an urgent and comprehensive response from both the government and healthcare stakeholders.
The government’s commitment to improving healthcare infrastructure and access must translate into concrete actions. Adequate budgetary allocation to procure essential medical equipment, including dialysis machines and the establishment of sustainable systems for the timely provision of consumables are crucial steps to prevent future tragedies.
The Chronicle calls for an urgent need for immediate action to prevent similar tragedies. Every Ghanaian deserves access to quality healthcare and it is the responsibility of all stakeholders to work together to ensure the availability of life-saving equipment and resources in our hospitals. The time to act decisively is now!
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