Guyana still suffering from limited dialysis services, lack of specialists & treatment options – Dr Ramsammy

Head of the Presidential Commission on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases, Dr Leslie Ramsammy
Head of the Presidential Commission on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases, Dr Leslie Ramsammy


Today is World Kidney Day. The theme is Living Well with Kidney Disease. Kidney diseases change lives of those diagnosed with the diseases and their families. In some families and for most families in developing countries, a diagnosis with kidney diseases, particularly end-stage renal diseases, can be impoverishing.

While Guyana has made significant progress in the last two decades, with better diagnosis of kidney diseases, more treatment options, including dialysis and kidney transplants, there remain significant deficits in the service. We need more specialists so that there is equity around the country. For example, dialysis services are available only in a limited way in Regions 4 and 6 and the cost for most families are prohibitive.

For persons in Region 1,2,3,5,7,8,9 and 10, they must access dialysis and other specialist kidney services in Regions 4 and 6. While Region 4 provides comprehensive diagnostic and treatment options, Region 6 provides only limited diagnostic and treatment options.

Diagnostic and treatment options in other regions are even more limited and even not available at all. While the public sector provide some diagnostic and treatment options, these are limited. Similarly, the private sector provides some options, but at cost that are prohibitive to most families.

Many families face the daunting task of funding the cost of treatment. In spite of more services in the public sector, families that must support their loved ones who need certain treatment, such as dialysis or who need transplants, face difficult financial challenges. The government of Guyana has provided vital support for these families. But the government has its own challenges and often families must contribute to the increasing costs of such services. In the weeks and months ahead, the Presidential Commission will make proposals on how government might further ease the burden on these families.

Education and awareness of kidney diseases remain at an alarming low level. This year, the Commission is seeking to ramp up education and awareness for kidney diseases. While education and awareness are significant initiatives in the prevention movement, education and awareness can also contribute significantly on empowering people with chronic kidney diseases (CKD). People living with CKD can live well with kidney diseases. One of the role of the health sector is to teach and empower people to live with CKD, live well with CKD.

While no one wants to live with CKD, CKD must not, at the same time, be the end of the world, the end of life. While improving diagnostics and treatment of CKD, we can empower people living with CKD to live normal lives, working and engaged in their communities.
On World Kidney Day, we highlight these matters so that our health sector can advance a more comprehensive program for preventing kidney diseases and for better diagnostics and treatment options.

Dr. Leslie Ramsammy
Chair, Presidential Commission on the Prevention and Control of NCDs
March 11, 2021