Rwanda: Private Operator Starts Affordable Kidney Dialysis

In most cases, kidney failure leaves many lives in need of kidney dialysis - an artificial method of filtering blood. A patient needs dialysis when they lose about 85-90% of their kidney function.

This treatment is so expensive in the country that many patients who can't afford it unfortunately die. There's even no health insurance service provider to support except RSSB and FARG.

It's against this background that the Africa Healthcare Network (AHN) opened the first private dialysis clinic in Kimihurura. With skilled nephrologists, the clinic will offer services at lower costs.

"We have over 130 years of experience in kidney treatment. Together with Rwanda's leading nephrologist, Dr. Joseph Ntarindwa, we have been serving patients for over 100 years. This expertise has allowed us to build a world-class center," said Ram Chellan, the AHN director for East Africa.

According to Chellan, Dr. Ntarindwa led the initiative to bring kidney care to the country. He mentioned that they will operating on a 20-40% discount compared to other hospitals in Rwanda. Their long-term goal is to continue to lowering the costs as they provide better services, and to increase awareness of both acute and chronic kidney diseases.

"We are planning to partner with the ministry of health to increase awareness of kidney diseases across the country. We will identify and host events for people at risk (patients with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, smoking, obesity, high cholesterol, etc.), and educate them on the risks and the progression of the disease. We will also identify patients whose kidney disease is in early stages and delay the progression and prevent the onset of dialysis," Chellan adds.

He further said that they will be inviting physicians from across Rwanda and broader East Africa to learn from leading nephrologists. Two events have already been held; one at Kanombe Military Hospital and another at King Faisal Hospital.

Chellan noted that a patient who does dialysis thrice a week and pays Rwf 120,000 per session will need Rwf 1.5 million per month elsewhere.

"We have reduced the price to Rwf 82,000 to save lives of those who will be waiting for a kidney transplant. This is the lowest we could offer as the equipments and maintenance of kidney dialysis is so expensive," said Chellan.

Eric Hakizimana's father has a kidney failure. He had brought him at the center for dialysis from where he said that he was enjoying the quality of service being offered to his father.

"I started seeing changes within only one week. My dad has been on treatment for one year but we have not seen as much improvement as he got here; they use filters that we could not find anywhere else in the country. He could swell and he could not walk on his own. That is now gone and he says he feels better, says Hakizimana.

Dr. Joseph Ntarindwa explains that kidney failure may occur from an acute situation that injures the kidneys, or from chronic diseases that gradually cause kidneys to stop functioning.

"It is possible to lose 90% of kidney function without experiencing any symptoms or problems, diabetes at 44% (types 1 and 2) and high blood pressure at 32% are the most common causes of CKD," said Dr. Ntarindwa, the chief medical director at AHN.

Dr. Ntarindwa added everything about kidney dialysis is now at their world class facility and patients may no longer be required to go to India.

"We plan to introduce kidney transplantation in the near future so that patients don't only rely on permanent dialysis but also get a more durable treatment without travelling abroad for surgery," said the doctor.