Breakdown! KCH closes dialysis unit

Kamuzu Central Hospital Dialysis Unit

There seems no end to the woes for dialysis patients in the country as all the 37 patients from the Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) Dialysis Unit, have been transferred and referred to Queen Elizabeth Central hospital in Blantyre for treatment.

The non-functional 10 Dialysis machines together with the water tank which purifies water for the process led to the closure of the Lilongwe facility last Saturday.

Kch spokesperson Chiyanjano Kazombo said the hospital management is doing everything possible to ensure maintenance of the machines is done as quickly as possible.

“The engineers have been notified and they will be arriving in the country one from South Africa one from Kenya they will be arriving one today and the other one on Friday to try and fix the machines but also the dialysis water plant,” said the publicist.

She indicated that KCH has taken the responsibility of transporting the patients between the two cities weekly to enable them access the services in Blantyre.

The Kamuzu central hospital where the Dialysis unit is located

Members of Kidney Foundation stated that they raised an alarm in March this year during its meeting with Ministry of Health officials but that nothing has been done until now when the unit has been closed.

They lament that majority of the patients had been admitted posing a challenge for people with non-communicable diseases who are prone to infections and that it’s hard for a patient to travel from Lilongwe to Blantyre just for dialysis.

Kidney Foundation which advocates for the welfare of patients with the condition has challenged the Health Ministry to find lasting solutions to the frequent breakdowns of the machines.

“It was the responsibility of the Ministry to maintain the machines but now they have pushed it back to KCH. According to a reliable source, the technician to maintain it will be arriving tomorrow and according to their plan it might take two weeks if all goes well; and that means patients will spend those two weeks in BT which is very inconvenient, expensive both to the patients and KCH,” explained the source.

During its meeting on 24th September this year with the Parliamentary Committee on Health, the Foundations also sounded an SOS over the performance of the machines as below average thereby causing a lot of complications to clients and that instead of getting relief after the sessions, they get worse or find themselves admitted.

Members of the Parliamentary Committee of Health captured in this file footage during its September interface with the Kidney Foundation

They lobbied the Ministry through the Committee to procure new machines for the unit and consider having a Kidney clinic with specialized doctors providing the needed services in all the three regions.

Although the Committee had reservations that the Foundation came in late with their concerns as the 2020-2021 budget had already been presented, it promised to visit the unit to appreciate the challenges.  

Initially, the KCH facility had ten machines but as of 8th August 2020, there were only six which were on and off; a development which saw some patients being rejected and kept on waiting list for a long time.

One machine is supposed to have two sessions in a day with a patient using it for four hours.

Only two government facilities Kamuzu and Queen Elizabeth Central hospitals treat kidney patients, with the Blantyre one having five machines treating 21 patients.