Mounting costs for kidney disease
Kidney disease is creating a tremendous burden on the Bahamian economy, amassing an”astounding”$45,000 bill every year of treatment per patient, according to Health Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, who said the government is taking steps to educate the public about the potentially fatal disease.
Dr. Minnis said that figure does not include the cost of medications or hospitalization as a result of associated complications.
“Recent data confirms that there are over 330 persons in The Bahamas today having dialysis as a result of kidney disease,”he said, pointing out that the number does not include affected persons who do not seek treatment.
Minnis was speaking earlier this week at the opening ceremony of Renal Awareness and Education Week at the Hilton Hotel.
The minister noted that The Bahamas is not alone when it comes to challenges associated with kidney disease.
“Global recognition of the challenges arising from increasing incidences of renal diseases gave rise to the observance of international World Kidney Day, which will be celebrated[tomorrow].
“For the first time in The Bahamas, in keeping with this global event, the Public Hospitals Authority and the Department of Public Health are seeking to educate healthcare staff and the public on the implications of the incidence of chronic kidney disease in the country, and to ensure that the disease may be prevented where possible to ensure early detection, timely referral and safe and effective client care,”he said.
The health minister stressed the importance of more Bahamians adopting a healthy lifestyle to prevent threatening illnesses such as kidney disease.
He pointed out that simple choices like eating a balanced diet, and exercising regularly are some of the things they can do to get or stay healthy.
Minnis said conditions such as hypertension and diabetes, both of which are prevalent in The Bahamas, contribute to the rise in renal diseases.
“There has also been confirmation of the inextricable link between kidney disease and heart disease,”he said.
The government has launched, through the National Insurance Board, a Chronic Disease Prescription Drug Plan, which allows patients with diabetes, hypertension and other illnesses to access their medications.
The Drug Plan was officially launched September 20, 2010.
Phase I is being entirely funded by the NIB.
Phase II is being funded by a mix of co-payments, grants, contributions and coordination of benefits with private insurance companies.
Phase II of the plan will cover the wider population including self employed NIB contributors, persons voluntarily insured with NIB, the indigent and persons in government institutions. Phase I of the Drug Plan covers NIB pensioners, Bahamian citizens over 65 years, NIB invalids and children under 18 or up to 25 if full time students.
In order to be eligible for membership, persons in these four groups must have been diagnosed by a licensed physician with one or more of 11 chronic conditions including arthritis, asthma, breast cancer, diabetes, glaucoma, high cholesterol, hypertension, ischaemic heart disease, major depression, prostate cancer and psychosis
Minnis said it is vital that other strategies are implemented to ensure prevention and early detection of renal disease.