A kidney transplantation procedure in India or Egypt costs between $15,000 and $20, 000 -that is just the cost of treatment, not inclusive of welfare, travel costs and other medications a patient might need during the recovery process.
On average, a kidney patient who undergoes a transplant in those countries can spend between $25,000 and $30, 000 on treatment, welfare and other unforeseen expenses.
According to Dr. Edgar Kalimba, the Deputy CEO of King Faisal Hospital- Kigali, on average, between 30 to 40 kidney disease patients travel abroad, especially India, to seek kidney transplantation services.
This means that going by the average of $25,000, Rwanda loses at least $1m or Rwf992m annually on treatment of kidney patients abroad.
King Faisal Hospital on Wednesday announced that by the end of 2021 it will be carrying out Kidney transplants, relieving the country of the capital flight and patients the costly hassle of traveling abroad to seek the treatment.
India has been the leading destination for patients with such condition but according, Prof Miliard Derbew, the CEO of the hospital, patients with kidney conditions, seeking a transplant, will no longer have to travel when the hospital starts proving the service before the end of the year.
He said the development is part of the government initiative to invest in the health sector, to make it more resilient and self-reliant, to support the country’s development ambitions.
According to Dr. Kalimba, KFH offering the kidney transplant services will not only save the country money, but it will also relieve the patients the difficulties related to seeking treatment abroad.
“There are at least 30-35 patients who go abroad every year in search of these services. This is a huge loss to these patients because these services come with a huge cost,”
“Of course, once we start the services, they will not be free, but we believe it will be less than 50 percent of the cost of treatment, and the ease of avoiding travel related costs,” Dr. Kalimba said, adding that on average a patient spends at least $15, 000 on treatment, exclusive of other expenses.
KFH recently brought on board a senior nephrologist, Dr. Momina Muhammed Ahmed, a specialist in the treatment of kidney diseases and related conditions. She says Kidney conditions are proving to be the most common, requiring special attention.
“For a start we will begin with Kidney transplants because this is one of the highly demanded services in Rwanda. Kidney transplants are much easier compared to heart or liver transplants,” she said.
With Covid-19 challenges and travel restrictions, patients with kidney conditions will be saved from the trouble of traveling abroad. According to Dr. Kalimba, the biggest number of patients who travel abroad to seek treatment, have kidney conditions.
The hospital, which has over the past two years been undergoing refurbishment and expansion, says in the next five it will be treating and handling most conditions that make people travel abroad.
He said Kidney conditions remain a big challenge because in most cases people go for treatment and dialysis when it is too late and their kidneys are already damaged, requiring a transplant.
The hospital is now looking to boost its capacity to handle heart, liver and orthopaedic conditions as well as gastrointestinal and physiological disorders. The hospital is already treating cardiovascular conditions.
Apart from offering quaternary medical care, Prof Derbew, said KFH is looking to bolster teaching, and research as well as the capacity to receive more patients. The hospital currently receives between 500 and 1000 patients daily and has about 160 beds.
Dr. Kalimba said the hospital is procuring the necessary equipment, drugs and also recruiting staff to ensure that kidney transplant services begin before the end of the year.
KFH, Rwanda’s biggest referral hospital, this week announced a $14 million funding secured through the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (TDB), to go towards financing expansion.