The initiative by the former Liberian leader, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to establish a modern treatment center for kidney disease in Liberia which led to the unwanted deaths of many Liberians has finally has yielded a fruitful results with the current, President of Liberia, Manneh Weah officially dedicating a modern kidney disease treatment center at the John F, Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Monrova.
The administration of President George Weah has opened the country’s first dialysis center, as kidney disease ranks as the fourteen’s leading causes of death in Liberia; the death from Kidney disease, according to 2018 WHO report by then stands at 453 or 1.35% of total deaths, while the age-adjusted death rate is 23.39 per 100,000 of the population — ranking Liberia #54 in the world.
However, a day ago, the Minister of Heath, while being interviewed by state broadcaster — ELBC disclosed that out of 245 people that were diagnosed with kidney disease between 2020/2021, only 48 survived.
The huge death, the minister said, came as a result of a lack of a dialysis center, which leaves many in an unfortunate position of not having the opportunity to have their kidney problems diagnosed until it’s too late to reverse the situation.
So when president Weah had the opportunity to open the country’s first dialysis center, he did so with joy — while describing the initiative as an important milestone in providing lifesaving treatment to those who are suffering from Kidney disease or at risk.
The President then acknowledged difficulties Liberians have endured in accessing advanced dialysis-related medical services outside of the country.
“For the first time in the history of this country, anyone and everyone can get affordable dialysis treatment right here in Liberia, President Weah added. “[Before] Liberians have had to travel out of the country to seek dialysis treatment which makes the overall cost of this lifesaving treatment unaffordable for many. This is an important milestone in our effort to provide comprehensive and modern health facilities to the People of Liberia.”
The facility, which is hosted in the company of the John F. Kennedy memorial hospital, consists of ten beds and is equipped with dialysis machines and other dialysis apparatus.
President Weah added that while the new facility is a good beginning, it is insufficient to address the needs of the entire country, which has witnessed an increasing number of non-communicable disease deaths.
“Although this is a good beginning, it is obviously insufficient to address the needs of the entire country. I call for the early expansion of this facility, and its replication in other counties in Liberia in order to provide easy access to our citizens who reside in the rural areas as a means of receiving much-needed dialysis care in Liberia,” President Weah said.
But the facility’s goals, for now, are not just to treat kidney disease, but also end-stage renal disease and diabetes. It will be performing dialysis treatment for individuals whose kidneys are failing. There are two types of dialysis, hemodialysis, and peritoneal dialysis, that both perform normal kidney functions, filtering waste and excess fluid from the blood.
According to a WHO 2018 report, diabetes, which is a non-communicate disease, caused 606 deaths, representing 1.81% of total deaths in that year with an age-adjusted death rate of 36.27 per 100,000 population — ranking Liberia #69 in the world. People who have diabetes are at increased risk for many serious health problems, including kidney disease and kidney failure.
‘It could save lives’At the unveiling of dialysis facilities, Dr. Jerry F. Brown, Chief Executive Officer of the John F. Kennedy Medical Center said it was a blessing to live and see this great initiative coming during my lifetime.
Dr. Brown added it has been a long-time dream of having a dialysis unit at the hospital, especially so when his administration is trying to reduce referrals out of Liberia by 50% as much as possible.
“Our dream has been to build on our infrastructure development, build our human resource capacity and also strive to bring new equipment to improve our Dialysis capacity. However, why we strive to do that, I would like to take you back a little into our history so that we understand the essence of this unit,” Dr. Brown said.
He said there were many other Liberians in the country who had lost theirs to renal failure and renal disease during the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak and they would have been saved if Liberia had this dialysis center including those who died during the coronavirus crisis.
Dr. Brown said many individuals and children who have acute failure cannot afford the medical bills. He, however, said individuals and children who may be taken to the center stand a greater chance of surviving when they undergo at least two circles or more of human dialysis… “There are many lives that are going to be saved.”
“To maintain this unit, we must build our human resource capacity, train our doctors as professors who are in the country will not stay and the nurses need to be trained and brought up to the level of the ones that were brought in,” Dr. Brown said.
Dr. Brown calls for stable electricity for the running of the dialysis center or else, the unit will not function and people seeking treatment will not receive the treatment.
Meanwhile, President Weah has disclosed in 2018 Dr. Jallah told about efforts that had been in the pipeline since 2011, under the previous administration for the establishment of a national dialysis center. The President said he quickly instructed the Minister to exert every effort to bring the project to fruition, giving her his every encouragement and support.
“And so today, four years later, I am pleased to be here to participate in the Opening Ceremony of the first Liberia National Dialysis Center,” the President said.
The Liberian President named the dialysis center the “Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf National Center,” for her administration role in setting the basis for the project, which came via the help of Dr. Tokuda Torao, of the Tokushukai Medical Corporation, the World Bank, ECOWAS, and the World Health Organization.