Mohammad Rasel, a 33 years old man, is struggling with his damaged kidneys over the last seven years.
Due to his poor financial condition, he is unable to go for the kidney transplantation; thereby, his last resort is the Gonoshasthaya Dialysis Centre, which is providing him with the dialysis service (that is essential and life-saving in his condition) at an affordable cost.
He is going through dialysis twice a week for the last two years at the centre at the rate of Tk1,200 per session.
Before coming to the centre, Rasel was going through his dialysis at the Care Hospital in the city, spending Tk3,300 for each day of dialysis. Taking his travelling cost from Narayanganj to the hospital into account, the total cost used to be around Tk10,000 per week.
This expenditure was too high for his financial condition that ultimately became a huge burden on him, eventually putting a halt on his treatment in the process; at the time, Rasel came to know about the Gonoshasthaya Dialysis Centre that provides the service at a nominal cost.
Like Rasel, many poor kidney patients are getting benefitted from this centre. The charges for each session of dialysis at the centre are: Tk1000, Tk1,200, Tk1,700, Tk2,500, and Tk3,000 for the patients from lower, lower middle class, middle class, upper middle class, and upper class income categories, respectively.
The dialysis centre also provides services to its ultra-poor patients at free of cost. To bear the expenses of dialysis of the poor kidney patients, the authorities at the centre turns to the affluent section of the society.
The centre is run with the help of Gonoshasthaya Kendra, BRAC, and Affordable Health Care Trust, all its patients enjoying health insurance coverage.
Besides, the cost of dialysis in private hospitals is much higher. At any other hospital with facilities for dialysis, one has to spend Tk3,000 for dialysis in each session. The amount spent for three sessions per week, including the medicine cost, ranges from Tk12,000 to Tk15,000.
This is the primary reason why many poor patients are forced to stop their dialysis as they fail to bear the expenses.
The Gonoshasthaya Dialysis Centre, the largest of its kind in the country with 110 beds, has started on its journey on May 13, 2017. It provides 260 patients, on average, with dialysis in three consecutive daily sessions.
More than 1,500 registered kidney patients go through dialysis at the centre, most of them having to lie on three days of dialysis a week.
Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury, the founder of the Gonoshasthaya Nagar Hospital in Dhaka, said, "I perceived the helplessness of kidney patients when I underwent dialysis at the Mirpur Kidney Foundation."
"My experience concerning the peril of the kidney patients made me taking initiative to bring the dialysis service to the poor patients at an affordable cost," he told The Business Standard.
Around 70 percent patients of the Gonoshasthaya Dialysis Centre received dialysis at only Tk1100, said Dr Muhib Ullah Khandker, vice principal at the Gonoshasthaya Community-based Medical College, while adding: no other country is able to provide a quality service at such a low cost like the Gonoshasthaya Dialysis Centre does.
The centre could reduce the cost for dialysis further, provided the government reduce cost of utility and the prices of treatment materials, Dr Muhib said.
The dialysis centre is located on the fourth and fifth floors of Gonoshasthaya Nagar Hospital, which is equipped with all modern facilities of international standards.
There are separate wards at the hospital for kidney patients with other complications; such as patients suffering from infectious diseases, like Hepatitis B and C. Besides, the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital is equipped with facility for dialysis, as well.
The centre runs round the clock with its trained physicians, nurses and technicians.
Tasnia Mehjabin, a medical officer at the centre, told this correspondent that each member of the medical staff works 10 hours a day.
Each of the 10-hour shift is attended by a consultant, an assistant professor, a medical officer, a trainee medical officer, and an intern doctor, she said.
Around two crore people in Bangladesh are afflicted with kidney diseases.
Even if one kidney is damaged, there is no alternative to its transplantation or dialysis, according to kidney specialists. Actually, dialysis is not a permanent solution to any critical problem of the kidney; if a kidney is damaged, it had to be transplanted, they said.
Dr Muhib said, patients must go through dialysis as the last resort, if they are unable to go for kidney transplantation for varied reasons such as age, financial condition, and difficulty in finding the appropriate donner.
Many kidney patients go abroad for kidney transplantation, which costs them at least Tk30 lakh; whereas, it takes Tk5 lakh in the country.