, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 13- Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) has partnered with Novartis Pharma Services to help Kenyan renal patients get affordable kidney transplants.
KNH Acting Director Charles Kabetu said on Wednesday that the partnership would reduce the cost of renal transplants from about Sh700,000 to less than Sh500,000.
“When you have Sh300,000 or Sh350,000 transplantation is possible. In addition we know that you (now) require at least Sh30,000 per month to maintain your anti rejection drugs after the transplant and Novartis have promised to make the medication more affordable,” he said.
Novartis area office head Samuel Nyabwana said the move would encourage renal patients opt to have kidney transfers locally and ultimately stop brain drain through the loss of doctors and specialists to other countries..
“It will boost the confidence that patients will have in our local people. It does not make much sense to go to India or whatever other place for a transplant if we can have it done locally,” said Mr Nyabwana.
Dr Kabetu added that the partnership would help KNH doctors and renal patients save time as it would allow the hospital conduct two transplants per week as opposed to the two transplants done last year.
“We have a pool of about 142 patients whom we are dialysing and they are all potential transplant patients. Our plans and partnership will allow us to do at least 100 transplants in a year. Once we start our outreach programmes we will dedicate a whole week for doing transplants and then increase the numbers. This might start in March,” he said adding that one transplant had already been done at the facility this year.
He attributed the low number of transplants conducted in Kenya last year to a misconception that renal transplants were more expensive locally than in other countries.
“When you come here (KNH) you are told to deposit sh700,000/750,000 and when you go out there you are asked for sh300,000 so you think KNH is asking for too much. However you have not counted the tickets, the upkeep and the drugs required so at the end of the day it sill becomes expensive,” he said.
Dr Kabetu added that the partnership would also facilitate an exchange programme between Kenyan and Spanish doctors so as to promote transfer of knowledge and skills.
Spanish doctors, Antonio Alcaraif (professor of Urology) and Federico Oppenheimer (Head of Renal Unit), both from the Hospital clinic University of Barcelona, were also present at the press briefing. They would be involved in the first phase of the exchange programme.
Doctor Alcaraif said the joint venture would significantly boost the economy of the country.
“Kidney transplants would improve the individual’s quality of life. A kidney transplant is less than half the price of maintaining a patient on dialysis. You will spend a lot of money in the first year after the transplant but it becomes cheaper in the long run,” he explained.