Zimbabwe is facing a critical shortage of kidney specialist doctors with only four servicing government institutions across the country.

The situation is making renal dialysis too expensive as patients have to be referred from one center to the other to seek treatment.

Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world in marking the World Kidney Day yesterday, amid growing concerns over shortage of specialists and consumables to be used in dialysis machines which require foreign currency to be imported.

Addressing delegates who gathered at Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo for the national commemorations, the Principal Director for Prevention Services in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Gibson Mhlanga said the government is seized with the problems in kidney treatment and is working on coming up with a transplant institution in the country.

“Setting up transplant facility is what the government of Zimbabwe needs to do. Then there is need to train kidney specialists and transplant surgeons so that there are kidney transplant services locally and drastically cut the costs being suffered by patients when they go to countries like India. The Ministry of Health and Child Care through NCD department will formulate plans to develop programmes related to screening, diagnosis and treatment of kidney diseases,” he said.

Earlier, some kidney patients had given some touching testimonies on the challenges they are facing as they seek to access kidney dialysis in the country.

The World Kidney Day, which was first observed in 2006 and commemorated every second Thursday of March, focuses on the importance of kidneys and the reduction of the frequency and impact of kidney diseases.