8 Mar 2012

Tonga under pressure with dialysis needs

3:08 pm on 8 March 2012

The Ministry of Health in Tonga says public pressure demanding dialysis equipment has caused it to open up public consultation on the matter.

200 people in the Kingdom are diagnosed with chronic kidney failure each year, and about a third of those need dialysis.

To get that treatment, they must travel overseas and pay some or all of the cost themselves.

The ministry says it doesn't have the budget to help Tongan patients as a dialysis machine costs up to 2.3 million US dollars.

The Ministry's Director of Health, Dr. Siale Akauola, says while primary and secondary health care remains a priority, the issue cannot be ignored.

"It's just a discussion, perhaps it may not be the right time to do it because it is a difficult time, it is a time of financial stress for small countries like us. We will still focus on primary and secondary, but it's just that we realise that there are people who cannot be protected by those strategies, so we can't just ignore them and let them die."

Dr. Siale Akauola says they will consult with the public for about three months before the ministry will make a decision.