MANDEVILLE, Manchester — With more than 100 people on the waiting list for dialysis at the Mandeville Regional Hospital's renal unit Jamaicans are being encouraged to maintain healthy lifestyles, even as leaders and businesses here pledge support towards the facility.
Dr Garbriel Ukala, consultant internist and head of the medicine department at the hospital, shared the worrying statistics of Jamaicans requiring dialysis and the insufficient resources available to them.
"At Mandeville Regional Hospital there are 12 dialysis stations operating on two and a half shifts daily, in addition to providing emergency dialysis when needed. On average this is able to accommodate about 70 patients for regular, planned dialysis," he said on Friday.
Ukala was addressing the media launch of a 5K event set for June 11 in support of the Mandeville Regional Hospital's renal unit.
He said 6,025 dialysis treatments were administered to 221 patients in 2021 at the renal unit.
"In 2022 there were 6,615 dialysis treatments on 197 patients. This is not meeting the demand — it hardly scratches the surface. The waiting list for dialysis at Mandeville Regional Hospital is well over 100 patients, and I don't want to tell you what the criteria for bringing in the next person is," said Ukala.
"Most of these patients are unable to afford the cost of private dialysis. Many start out by getting private dialysis but are unable to keep up with the requirement for two or three dialysis treatments a week due to the cost associated with the treatment," he said.
He reiterated that kidney disease is preventable.
"The main risk factors that we have discovered for end-stage kidney disease are poorly controlled diabetes and hypertension, both chronic lifestyle diseases that are prevalent in our population," said Ukala.
Custos of Manchester Garfield Green, who has been vital to the organisation of the 5K, said he is looking forward to people supporting the event.
"[For] the inaugural run/walk/cycle for Manchester we have decided to partner with the Ministry of Health and Wellness, through the Southern Regional Health Authority, to provide moral and financial support to the renal unit… Providing care for kidney disease is very costly, delicate and technical. I toured the unit and I learnt a lot. I had no idea [prior] as to how it worked," he said.
"Our 5K road race is not just a physical challenge, but it sets the tone for trust, commitment, solidarity, sympathy and empathy," he added.
Mayor of Mandeville Donovan Mitchell said the municipal corporation, which manages Cecil Charlton Park, has waived fees for the use of the facility for the 5K and has contributed to the purchase of 200 branded T-shirts.
"We are partnering with the custos and his team. Twenty members of our staff will join the 5K," he said.
CEO of the Mandeville Regional Hospital Alwyn Miller commended Custos Green for partnering with the renal unit.
"The promotion of a healthy lifestyle, and particularly exercise, remains very relevant beyond the COVID[-19] pandemic. I think most of us will remember during the pandemic we saw a whole lot more people walking in the morning and persons drinking more water and juices and striving for a healthy life. We should continue that," he said.
"This event promises to be an extraordinary one. In my mind, outside of the Blue Mountains, Mandeville has the most salubrious and refreshing climate that will contribute to revitalising our participants," added Miller.
The registration link for the event is https://my.raceresult.com/241933/registration