In need of treatment
A shortage of facilities in other parts of the country is making treatment hard to come by in Hodeida.
Hamdan Ali has been going to the center since his childhood as a result of his kidney failure. A young man in his 20’s, the patients looks tired and exhausted. Dialysis has taken a toll on Ali.
It’s a 30-minute journey from Ali’s rural home to the Dialysis Center. He calls ahead to make sure there is vacant machine before he embarks on the journey.
“It’s hard to wait for my turn in the center due to my deteriorating health condition. I feel better when I receive treatment,” Ali said.
But treatment is few and far between these days. Ali used to receive treatment five days a week, but due to an influx of patients, he is now lucky if he can be hooked up to a machine three days a week.
On average 220 patients come to the center daily but only 150 patients can receive treatment. The medical staff has had to make some tough decisions as a result.
“Due to the large number of patients in the center, we have to reduce a patient’s time slots and provide them to others,” said Maliha Shehaiber, a nurse supervisor. She recognizes that this could have dire consequences for the patients’ health.
“Each time after I receive treatment, I suffer from headache, nausea and dizziness, but I have to receive the treatment,” said Sameera Qaed, whose swollen veins reveal her years on dialysis.
Qaed is originally from the city of Wesab in Dhamar governorate. Several years ago, she had to make the choice to move permanently to Hodeida so she was assured treatment.
The center says there were 800 patients who received treatment at the center in 2013. That is 70 more than they had in 2012. But already stretched to the limit and with no new resources, the 70 patients have burdened the center. The state-supported center, which opened in 1990, offers treatment free of charge but patients are expected to pay the costs of an initial medical examination and registration fees.
Every five years Yemen allocates money in its budget for dialysis centers. Over the years, the center in Hodeida has gradually gone from 10 machines to their current number of 30, which are not keeping pace with demand. Given the current plan, it will not be until 2015 when the Dialysis Center is eligible for money again.
The facility is also severely understaffed and is subject to frequent employee strikes.
In October of last year, following a three-month delay in salaries, employees went on strike.
Following the strike, the Health Office in Hodeida governorate paid the over-due salaries. However, the health office was unable to provide salaries for November and December so the non-profit organization, the Charitable Society for Supporting Kidney Failure Patients, stepped in and covered the expense.
The head of the charity, Ahmed Jazim Saeed, is concerned about salaries for January as no one knows who will be paying staff salaries.
“We call on the Health Office, the finance minister and Hodeida’s governor to take action and rescue the center. We want to guarantee these employees, working on contracts, will get their salaries in 2014,” he said.
More centers, better services
There have been efforts in place to better health service offerings in Hodeida governorate. In 2003, the administration at the Dialysis Center proposed a plan to the central Ministry of Public Health and Population to establish more dialysis centers in the governorate bases on population density.
The plan has seen some success. In 2004, three small centers were built in the Al-Qanawis, Zabid and Bajil districts in Hodeida. The Zabid center opened in February 2013, but the Al-Qanawis and the Bajil centers are not yet up and running. A Qatari businessman paid for the equipment for the Al-Qanawis center and the Turkish government equipped both the Bajil and Zabid centers. Al-Qanawis is hopeful that the centers will open this year.
“We hope these new centers will provide better services,” he said.