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Brantley: Progress Being Made on Dialysis Unit for Nevis

hemodialysis machine

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN):  Progress has been made toward the operationalization of a dialysis unit in Nevis, so says Health Minister, Deputy Premier Mark Brantley.

"We have found a partner. They have offered us additional machinery, additional supplies at a rate that we feel is workable and they have offered us some training," Health Minister and Deputy Premier Mark Brantley said on last week's edition of Nevis Television’s Inside Government programme.

“We have been searching desperately for a partner in terms of dialysis. We now have, we feel, a reliable partner that we have been working with," "We're identified some nurses for training, we've identify a technician for training...…It has taken time because these things can’t happen overnight and that is what I have always said, with proper planning we can execute,' he said.

Mr. Brantley said the Ministry of Health had also been advised that two machines are inadequate to provide dialysis treatment. 

"You always have to have a machine that is standing by so that if anything goes wrong, you can switch the patient over and then you always have to have separate machines for people who may have infectious diseases.  So people who may have HIV, people who may have hepatitis and like infectious diseases, they cannot go on the same machines...we are being told that we need a minimum of four in order to have a proper dialysis centre,” 

The Concerned Citizens Movement-led Island Administration has been under constant fire from the Opposition Nevis Reformation Party for not operationalizing two dialysis units that the NRP had procured before leaving office in January last year.  The NRP and its supporters have blamed Brantley for the deaths of people whose lives they say would have been saved had they had access to dialysis treatment on Nevis.

The NIA however, has insisted that it was acting on the advice of a team from the Federal Ministry of Health that was providing scientific and technical advice in preparation for the bringing the units on stream. 

"But if you seek the cart before the horse, you go off and buy dialysis machines, you don't have a single nurse trained, you don't have a single nephrologist, you have no vascular surgeon, you have not a single technician who can break down the machines and put them back together if there's a problem while somebody's undergoing dialysis.  Dialysis is not something that you can stop and start, it is something that once you say to people you have the service, you have to be able to stand behind it and with no preparation, nothing done, it then came to us to put a plan in place," Brantley said, challenging the assertion of the former Health Minister Hensley Daniel, that he had left a plan in place for the operationalization of the dialysis machines.

"I heard the former Minister talk about he had arrangements with a dialysis doctor and a dialysis center in the Virgin Islands, we have spoken to them repeatedly.  Nothing, nothing at all was accurate about that.  All that had happened with that was a conversation was had, and the gentleman there was of the view that we simply don't have the patients that would make dialysis worthwhile," Brantley said.

"We have had conversations with dialysis centers in America.  The first question they ask, "How many patients do you have?" When they're told two or three, they're not interested, because for them they recognize as we say colloquially is that the dance can't pay for the lights...the other issue of course is that the dialysis machine came in a little container, and we also told that that really is inadequate for a proper dialysis center." 

The new dialysis unit would be part of the expansion of the Alexandria Hospital, the Deputy Premier said.

"I appeal please to our public and to the Opposition in particular let us stop trying to politicize healthcare, let us stop trying to politicize illness."

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