Political will can save renal patients

TsepongELSEWHERE in this edition we carry the story of a ’Matlokotsi Makoa whose plight should jolt the government into action.

Makoa suffers from chronic renal failure, a disease that is not only debilitating but also extremely expensive to treat.

What makes her situation worse is that no hospital in Lesotho seem to have an immediate solution to her problem.

Not even Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital, the country’s only referral hospital built at a staggering cost of M1 billion, is able to help her.

For dialysis treatment, Makoa, just like many other sufferers, has to go to South Africa where he has to pay hefty fees.

In the past six months she has been forced to fork out nearly M100 000, an amount that is no small change for a civil servant.

There are probably hundreds others who are in the same situation.

She says she has now realised why other patients with the same condition just give up on life.

Makoa says she is almost bankrupt.

It’s not hard to see why.

For every dialysis session Makoa has to pay M1 500, which is equivalent to two-month’ wages for a textile factory worker.

Makoa has to be dialysed twice a week.

The costs are so prohibitive that many patients just stay at home and wait to die.

Currently, Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital only handles patients with acute renal failure.

It would seem that treatment for chronic renal failure was not included in the agreement between government and Netcare because it is expensive.

This is because treatment at the hospital is heavily subsidised by the government.

The arrangement seems to have been based on the agreement Lesotho has with South Africa to admit Basotho into its public hospital.

But it’s now becoming obvious that the arrangement is no longer working properly.

South Africa itself is overwhelmed by the number of its own renal patients.

That leaves private hospitals which, as Makoa’s situation reveals, do not come cheap.

That is why the government must urgently utilise and expand the  renal unit at Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital.

It is unacceptable that a hospital built at a cost of M1 billion does not provide specialist treatment like dialysis simply because there was no agreement to provide such service with the government.

The blame doesn’t lie with the service provider, Netcare.

It is the government that must urgently come up with a payment plan that would provide relief to the suffering chronic renal failure patients.

We doubt that if offered, the treatment will be as expensive as it is in South Africa’s private hospitals.

We also believe that there are many costs that the government can cut to raise money for a renal unit.

It all boils down to political will and sacrifices.

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