At the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), a football ground is about to be done away with to pave way for the East African Kidney Institute, a game changer in the region.
The facility is part of a network of centres of excellence in non-communicable diseases across East Africa. Kenya is hosting the nephrology and urology institute, Uganda a cancer unit, Tanzania a heart unit and Rwanda an e-health and rehabilitation science centre.
In a communication last week, the Health ministry announced the groundbreaking ceremony which has since been postponed. The announcement of the groundbreaking is evidence that Kenya is finally ready to commence the Sh3.6 billion project.
The institute, being funded by the African Development Bank, will serve the East African region, and will result in reduction of healthcare costs, and increase medical tourism and productivity.
In her presentation to the parliamentary Health Committee, Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache said the project will be key in addressing treatment, research on kidney ailments and training and hence contribute to sustained efforts in the fight against such diseases.
“The project is aligned to the country’s strategies and development objectives for relevant skills development in the labour market. The project's aim is to enhance the EAC's competitiveness through a highly skilled workforce in biological sciences,” she said.
The project will consist of a five-storey regional medical school and hospital for kidney-related ailments. It will comprise 25 wards, laboratories, surgical theatres, high dependency units, consultation rooms and parking yards.
The PS said the centre is built on Kenya's need to manage a kidney health crisis and promote medical tourism from the neighbouring countries.
The Kenya Renal Association estimates that the number of patients on chronic haemodialysis — a treatment that filters and purifies the blood using a machine — in both private and public hospitals has increased by eight times from 300 in 2006 to 2,400 in 2018.
According to the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), dialysis is the single largest claim made to the fund.
A scrutiny of the benefits package utilisation report shows that in the last half of 2018, NHIF paid a further Sh64.7 million towards kidney transplants, up from Sh21.7 million the previous year. In 2016, NHIF paid hospitals Sh839.9 million between July and December, up from Sh139.8 million in a similar period a year earlier — a five-fold increase.
The proposed building covers a gross floor area of approximately 22,000 square metres.