Most people have the mistaken impression that treatment for kidney ailments is unavailable in Bangladesh, but with the advancement of medical technology the situation has changed.
11 children have so far undergone kidney transplants in the country.
According to the nephrology department of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, 11 children underwent kidney transplants at the hospital, all of whom are healthy now.
Associated medical officers said Bangladesh is becoming an example in the field of children’s kidney treatment, with only the required medicine not being available in the country. If these could be produced locally, the cost of the surgery would be reduced considerably.
Prof Dr Md Habibur Rahman said: “When our university was established, there was only a peritoneal dialysis unit which treated people with defunct kidneys. After the institute was inaugurated in 1998, kidney treatment saw a steady rise in quality, with a separate department for the treatment of children’s kidneys being established in 2005.
“Back in the day, there was only one professor, an associate professor and one assistant professor. Now, there are seven professors and nine nursing staff. Moreover, one can study FCPS and MD from this department, with 12 students currently in enrolment,” he added.
Associate Professor Dr Afroza Begum said: “When Bangladeshis go abroad for kidney treatment, the doctors there ask why they came because good kidney treatment is available in our country. Those doctors know us because we regularly attend medical seminars and conferences together, and while there we compare and exchange notes and suggestions on how to best treat patients.
“Before, the proper diagnosis of kidney diseases was rare, so a lot of patients suffered or perished without anything being detected as wrong. Now, diagnosis and subsequent treatment are saving lives. Doctors all over the country are referring patients to us,” she also said.
She continued: “We treat patients for very little money compared to other countries, and most patients receive discounts from the hospital itself. Sometimes the professors themselves chip in for low-income patients, and most people belonging to the middle-class cab afford the treatment as it is. Whatever the case, no patient goes back without treatment.”
Some doctors at the hospital are of the opinion that it is possible to greatly improve the current level of treatment available in the country. They believe that providing countrywide medical diagnosis through telemedicine, local production of expensive imported medicine, and possible subsidizing of the checkups a patient has to go through following a transplant would greatly increase the overall quality of service provided.
Assistant professor Dr Abdullah Al Mamun said: “The kidney treatment available in our country is a third of its cost in India, and a tenth of its cost in Singapore. It is definitely affordable for middle-income families.”
Prof Habibur Rahman said: “People are more aware about such issues than before. As a result, the mortality rate from kidney diseases in children has decreased greatly. This awareness has also resulted in an increase of preventive measures, reducing the spread of such ailments.”
This article was first published on Bangla Tribune