Low-cost dialysis centre opens; Guyanese likely eating a lot of salt

Written by Denis Scott Chabrol
Wednesday, 14 September 2011 18:23
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Professor Carlisle next to a dialysis machine

Guyanese may be eating too much salt- one of the reasons for some persons suffering from kidney disease but precise diagnosis, treatment and even dialysis will in the coming days be offered at a fraction of the cost.

Other causes of kidney disease include diabetes, hypertension and nephritic syndrome in children.

Canadian Professor of Nephrology, Euan Carlisle is among several persons who have flown in from Canada to help set up the Doobay Renal Centre, a non-profit facility at Annandale Village about 10 miles east of Guyana’s capital Georgetown.

Though he has no hard data to come to a concrete conclusion, Carlisle is partly using evaluations of patients who are turning up at the centre to prepare for dialysis to conclude that salt-intake appears to be too high.

“I don’t have any research or studies to look at this in Guyana but my impression is that there is a lot of salt in the diet here,” he told reporters, adding that there seems to be a lot of diabetes and high blood pressure.

Professor Carlisle, who works at Mc Master University, believes that a high amount of salt in diets is “potentially” playing a major role in those non-communicable diseases. “I have asked every single patient that I see how much salt they are taking and most of them are telling me that they are taking quite a lot of salt.

He explains that salt increases blood pressure which in turn hurts failing kidneys.

Professor Carlisle has begun seeing several patients who could be in the first batch to receive dialysis that must be taken thrice weekly at five hours per session. He is also putting in place medical supervision management and supervision standards for the Doobay Renal Centre.

Fifteen persons have been evaluated during the past two days, ahead of the commencement of dialysis on Thursday.

Director (Administration) at the Doobay Renal Centre, Vickram Odit says the charity will provide low-cost renal services for early identification of persons who risk losing kidney functions and delay as far as possible the need for dialysis.

Jamaica-born Canadian Haemodialysis nurse, Louisa Mc Kenzie (left) who is training Guyanese nurses. She says four of the 14 have some experience in that field

Odit says the GUY$25 million facility is working closely with the Ministry of Health and local and overseas businessmen and well-wishers to ensure that no one is deprived of diagnosis and treatment including dialysis.

“We are not turning anybody who needs dialysis away; that’s a fundamental principle that every director has signed off on,” he told reporters. The Guyana government will help to identify the most needy. Talks are also underway with the National Insurance Scheme to help pay for patients’ dialysis. The renal centre is equipped with 15 dialysis machines valued at US$3,000 each. Eleven of them are installed and four are on standby.

The Georgetown Public Hospital is expected to provide treatment to acute patients and after the Doobay Renal Centre will do follow-ups when they are discharged.

The hospital will provide laboratory and nursing services and the centre will provide nephrology expertise.

Using per capita estimates from Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados, the Doobay Renal Centre estimates that at least 800 Guyanese need dialysis but the prohibitive cost has seen a number of them selling their properties or resigning themselves to death.

Cardiovascular surgeon, Dr Budendra Doobay, who is also president of the Vishnu Mandir, the Humber River Regional Hospital and Sunny Brook Hospital have all joined hands in providing the dialysis machines and training of local nurses.

The renal centre intends to expand to other parts of Guyana to reduce travel-time to Annandale. Oditt assured that all monies are fully accounted for and the ‘books’ are being audited by a reputable accounting firm.

The Doobay Renal Centre intends to hold fund-raising events and receive donations from Canada and other countries.
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