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50 kidney patients sue State over care

Fifty kidney failure patients have sued the Government for failing to provide adequate dialysis machines for their treatment.

Through their lawyer, Mr Peter Wanyama, the patients want the Ministry of Health to provide enough dialysis machines to serve the more than 300 patients who need the treatment.

Of the 20 machines at Kenyatta National Hospital, only six work, causing heavy traffic as renal failure patients compete to live.

“We want the High Court to make a specific order to enforce the right of the patients as stipulated in Article 43 (Sub-article 1) of the Constitution, which guarantees the citizens’ right to the highest attainable level of health care,” Mr Wanyama said.

The lawyer also noted that the current charges for dialysis were too high for the common man.

Cannot afford

“KNH charges them Sh5,050 per session with the National Hospital insurance Fund contributing only Sh2,400 — leaving them to pay Sh2,650 per session —which is still too high. Those who cannot afford this just die off without much ado,” said Mr Wanyama.

The situation is different in private hospitals where patients easily access dialysis at Sh10,000 per session. This means that a renal failure patient would require Sh30,000 a week to access dialysis in a private hospital.

Because the cost of the treatment is prohibitive for the poor, many often skip sessions and die because they cannot not afford the cost of medication.

Mr Stephen Githinji, who has been on dialysis for the last 24 years was lucky enough to have a transplant, last year.

He is happy to escape the agony of seeking dialysis, which he described as an extra pain. 

Excess water

Said Mr Githinji: “If you fail to go for dialysis, you will have excess water in your system and you can die any minute.”

Compared to patients at private hospitals who live a healthy life and can work normally, the poor cannot be said to be living — they are dead men walking as they face serious difficulties owing to their inability to get regular treatment. 

In the sworn affidavit filed in court on April 23, 2013, the court ordered that private hospitals be served with court papers to tell the court how much it costs for a session of dialysis so that the Government could supplement the cost, as it put in place plans to increase the dialysis machines. 

 “We understand the challenge but the Government must supplement the costs and make the machines available,” said Wanyama.