MoH establishes dialysis facilities in P/ling and Gelephu

Following the deaths of two Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) patients in Phuentsholing and Thimphu due to the Covid-19, dialysis facilities have now been established in the isolation unit in Phuentsholing and Gelephu

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is the leading cause of death due to the Covid-19 in the country with two people dying being renal patients on dialysis.

Accordingly, dialysis facilities have now been established by the Ministry of Health (MoH) in the isolation unit in Phuentsholing and Gelephu, in addition to those at the Jime Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) in Thimphu.

The MoH’s focal person said in addition to the basic health assistance, the health workers also provide therapeutics to manage severe cases in line with the COVID-19 treatment guidelines recommended by the World Health Organization and other international health agencies.

“Oxygen therapy and ventilator facilities have been installed in isolation facilities where CKD patients with severe COVID-19 are stationed,” the official added.

Meanwhile, both of the recent Covid-19 deaths in the country were confirmed to be kidney patients on dialysis.

The recent victim was a 47-year-old man, who after testing Covid-19 positive, died at the ICU or isolation facility of RIGGS in Phuentsholing.

Similarly, a 37-year-old woman died in Thimphu’s isolation ward on January 28. The woman was on dialysis in Phuentsholing and was referred to Thimphu after testing positive for the virus.

As per the present protocol, kidney patients who are Covid negative are normally not admitted to the hospital until they have medical problems like breathing difficulties or shock. They leave the hospital after dialysis and return home.

Further, what aggravates problems for CKD patients is that only a few places in the country have dialysis facilities, such as the JDWNRH in Thimphu, Gelephu Central Regional Referral Hospital (CRRH), Mongar Eastern Regional Referral Hospital (MERRH), and the Phuentsholing Hospital.

As the dialysis facilities in Phuentsholing were confined to the hospital and no dialysis facilities were in the isolation wards, so CKD patients, who detected Covid-19 positive, were referred to Thimphu for dialysis.  

When asked about the ministry’s strategy in place for all the Covid positive patients with underlying illnesses to receive treatment where they live rather than having to travel to the capital, which puts their lives in jeopardy, the MoH’s focal person said, “Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the MoH has identified four centers (JDWNRH, ERRH in Mongar, Phuentsholing, CRRH in Gelephu) to manage severe COVID-19 patients.”

The health ministry has also identified an isolation ward in all the districts, which caters to the Covid positive patients.

According to Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering, there are 306 registered kidney patients on dialysis and 42 people who have had a kidney transplant and are on continual medication.

“Patients with CKD are the most severe Covid patients, and it will be extremely difficult for patients with underlying illnesses to be infected with the Covid,” Lyonchhen added.

Meanwhile, all the six Covid-related deaths, according to the MoH records, occurred in the last 13 months, starting on January 7, 2021. All the three men and three women had underlying medical issues. 

Tshering Pelden from Thimphu