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Private dialysis business booms on renal disease upsurge

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IMAGE: A patient undergoing dialysis »



Story:  Alexander Chiejina

The growing prevalence of diabetes, hypertension and a large susceptible elderly population, are rapidly driving up the number of people developing end stage renal diseases (ESRD) in Nigeria, spurring an upsurge of new investments in dialysis business valued at $314 million (N54 billion).

The number of dialysis patients in Nigeria is estimated by experts at 50, 000 with 15, 000 patients developing kidney diseases annually. Demand for this healthcare portfolio is said to far outstrip supply, with only 76 dialysis units to serve the affected population size in Nigeria.

Private sector players operate only 34 of the dialysis centres, while government operates 42.  Lagos, said to be Nigeria’s most populous state, with 22 million inhabitants, accounts for 20 dialysis units (with 15 privately run and 5 government run) besides the two kidney transplant units in Lagos State(1 private and 1 public).

While people with ESRD are required to undergo three dialysis sessions a week (each lasting between three and four hours) at a cost of between N25, 000 and N 30, 000 per session, this leaves several patients with high out-of-pocket payment for healthcare services and at the mercy of family and well wishers.

Experts say the number of sufferers, mostly middle-aged Nigerians, is alarming for a country which depends on its productive young and middle-aged for development.

Industry watchers say this situation undermines Nigeria’s quest to meet the 30 percent Universal Health Coverage target by 2015 which it set for itself, with the present health insurance cover able to serve only three to six dialysis sessions per individual, leaving the patient to pay for the remaining 30 sessions worth over N900, 000.

Ebun Bamgboye, Clinical Director, St. Nicholas Hospital, Lagos, said the cover under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) for patients requiring dialysis is insufficient. This, he said places huge financial burdens on such patients in Nigeria, unlike in the United Kingdom and United States of America, where provision is made under their health insurance schemes to cover the payments.

Bamgboye explained that the Nigerian Association of Nephrology had made contact with the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to increase the cover beyond the three to six sessions, and is still looking forward to the parastatal raising the bar.

“We as an association, have made some contact with the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and the good news is that they have accepted to carry out between three and six dialysis sessions, which will be funded by government.

“But if such an individual has ESRD, he/she needs three dialysis sessions in a week. Six sessions of kidney dialysis would be appropriate for someone with acute kidney injury, with the potential of having reversible failure of the kidney.

“About 36 dialysis sessions (three months) are expected to establish an individual has end stage renal disease and the six dialysis sessions presently covered by the health insurance scheme will be inadequate to establish that,” Bamgboye further explained.

BusinessDay investigations show that increasing private investments, venture funding to support new product development and increasing adoption of new treatment modalities, are some of the factors propelling the growth of the dialysis products and services market.

The exponential growth and expansion of chronic renal failure in patients calls for more renal services, nephrologists and sophisticated dialysis machines and medicaments, experts say. Presently, there are over 100 nephrologists, over 200 renal nurses and technicians in Nigeria.

A breakdown of the distribution of renal units in Nigeria shows that Lagos has 20 dialysis units (5 public, 15 private) with 2 transplant units (1 private and 1 public).

Other South-West states have 10 dialysis units (7 public and 3 private) with 2 transplant units that are publicly run. Abuja has 8 dialysis units (4 private and 4 public) while the 11 Northern states have 14 dialysis units and 3 transplant units which are publicly run.

The South-South States have 12 dialysis units (7 public and 5 private) while the South-East States have 12 dialysis units (5 public and 7 private). However, the latter regions do not have any kidney transplant facility.

Article Credit: BusinessDay newspaper

Updated 6 Years ago

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Tags:     Dialysis     hypertension     Ebun Bamgboye     St. Nicholas Hospital     Lagos     National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS)