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Prime Minister cautions against unhealthy lifestyle

Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell – eating healthier, exercise, and not abusing substances will result in much healthier lifestyles

To a large extent our behaviour, our lifestyle contribute significantly to the challenges that we face in our healthcare system, and it basically means that we engage in behaviours that are not helpful, not healthy, and then we have to spend taxpayers money to mitigate, and cure the consequences of our own behaviour, where if we were simply healthy, if we ate healthier, exercise, (and) if we didn’t abuse substances, a lot of our health problems would not exist.

Those were the words of caution from Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell as he underscored the importance of engaging in healthy behaviours following the delivery of the Throne Speech by Governor General Dame Cecile La Grenade during the opening of the Eleventh session of Parliament in St. George’s on last week Wednesday, which outlined transformation in the health sectors among the “crucial components” embodied in the new government’s transformational agenda.

Dame Cecile told Grenadians in the speech that was written by the government-of-the day that “healthy minds and bodies are the foundation on which we must build to achieve sustainable growth.”

The Prime Minister, who was at the time responding to questions posed during a live interview broadcast on the Government Information Service (GIS) following the parliamentary sitting, pointed to the increasing need for dialysis services at the St. George’s General Hospital, as an example of the challenges facing the health sector.

Dialysis is the clinical purification of blood as a substitute for the normal function of the kidney, a costly procedure, which is required thrice a week.

PM Dickon Mitchell said that medical experts have confirmed that approximately “12 years ago you would have had one (1) person on dialysis (and) fast forward 12 years later you got 33, 34 persons on dialysis.”

Pointing to “projections based on a model done in the United States among Blacks and Hispanic people that 3% of the population gets to the stage where you have acute kidney failure,” the Grenadian leader acknowledged that “the cost of doing those things if you extrapolated that in the case of Grenada, it will be $33m a year, and this is funding clearly that we don’t have, and we can’t afford.”

“But again, we don’t have to get to that point if we adjust our lifestyles, our eating (habits), minimising and not abusing alcohol, if we exercise, if we eat a lot of the things that we grow. So, those are some of the things that we have to be able to address from a health perspective,” PM Mitchell added.

The branch of medicine that deals with the physiology and diseases of the kidneys is called Nephrology.

During the government’s post-Cabinet media briefing in St. George’s last week Tuesday, the Head of the Nephrology Unit at the St. George’s General Hospital, Dr. Germaine Bristol, provided an update as it relates to the operation of the Unit, the Nephrology machinery, and what the public can look forward to in the coming months.

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Dr. Bristol said the Unit has already commenced peritoneal dialysis treatment, which is the first form of dialysis for persons who have kidney failure, and is a process where the patient receives specially designed fluids to get rid of the toxins and excess fluids, which they can administer themselves.

Additionally, she said that equipment has already been set up as the Unit prepares to commence Hemodialysis treatment, which is a process where the blood is taken out of the body, cleaned and returned to the body.

“We are currently in the process of retesting our water to make sure that it is of the best quality to provide our patients with standard care to avoid issues and complications,” Dr. Bristol explained.

“Last Thursday we had a practice session with a live patient, which went very well so in essence we are ready,” she said, adding, “we now await the last set of testing that we are doing and once we have done that we would be ready to officially launch,” she added.

However, the medical doctor noted that “Hemodialysis treatment would not be free to everyone,” and outlined a system by which “patients requiring treatment will be accessed by the social worker and assigned into a tier system for which there are different costs.

“Tier one, which is for persons coming from overseas or persons who have health insurance will pay a fee of $660.00 per Hemodialysis session, which is going to give them a monthly cost of $7, 920.00 and $5, 010.00 for peritoneal dialysis,” Dr. Bristol said.

“Tier two” caters for “persons who are not insured but have the financial means, not have insurance but have the financial means to pay for their treatment,” who will pay “$440.00 per Hemodialysis session, which amounts to $5, 280.00 a month as opposed to peritoneal dialysis, where they will be paying $3, 045.00 per month.”

Tier three captures “vulnerable persons, persons benefiting from the SEED programme who will be paying $125.00 out of pocket per Hemodialysis treatment, which amount to $1, 500.00 a month, and peritoneal dialysis patients will be paying $1, 000.00 per month.

According to Dr. Bristol, there is also a criteria in place for cost exemption.

The Nephrology Unit at the St. George’s General Hospital is manned with One (1) Nephrologist, three (3) house officers, three (3) Nephrology nurses, who have been trained to perform both peritoneal dialysis and Hemodialysis treatment, and a nurse manager.

Services available include, prevention, screening, treatment of kidney disease in hospital, treatment for kidney failure, and outpatient clinic.

At present, the Unit is not equipped to offer kidney transplant, which is the ultimate form of treatment for kidney disease but Dr. Bristol said they are in the process of establishing a relationship with Guyana” in that regard.

“So, we are just looking to further cement that relationship,” she added.

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