Palau is down to 6 working hemodialysis machines from 9, confirmed Dr. Mekoll, Director of Clinical Services at the Ministry of Health.
Out of 9 machines, two are beyond repair, one is awaiting parts and 6 are operational. “Our technicians are working with technicians in Taiwan and they’ve secured the parts but with no flights, there will be a delay,” reported Mekoll.
Senator Jonathan Isechal, wrote President Surangel Whipps Jr. this week asking to him to do everything in his power to procure an additional hemodialysis machine for the Dialysis Unit at the Belau National Hospital.
“With approximately 30 hemodialysis patients currently receiving treatment, this shortage has forced the hospital staff to schedule patients multiple times a week and work very long shifts late into the evening. Furthermore, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted regular flights from Taiwan, making it nearly impossible for replacement parts or technical experts to be flown into Palau,” expressed Isechal.
Senator Isechal warned that if another dialysis machine breaks down, “hemodialysis patients would face dire and life-threatening situations.”
Patients receive treatments 2 to 3 times a week and each session last between 2 to 4 hours each, explained Dr. Mekoll. The Dialysis Unit runs 6 days a week with one day for the equipment to be cleaned and serviced. He acknowledged that the staff are pulling longer shifts as a result.
In response to Island Times yesterday, Dr. Mekoll said that they have made a report to President Whipps regarding the matter and they are looking for solutions. He said that it costs around $15,000 to purchase a new hemodialysis machine from Taiwan.
Meanwhile, with only 6 machines operational, Dr. Mekoll said that doctors are advising their patients to follow their prescribed diets carefully and to exercise extra care at this time.
Hemodialysis treatment is one of the few services excluded from the National Health Insurance and patients have to receive the treatment at the Belau National Hospital at their own expense. Treatment was excluded under RPPL 8-16 due to its high cost and financial unsustainability.
Senator Isechal asked President Whipps to tap into the Hospital Trust Funds to procure the equipment which he said is in line with the Trust Fund’s medical emergency mandate.

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