BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – To cope with the rising number of patients requiring renal replacement treatment, Brunei needs more renal nurses and greater capacity at dialysis sites.

Deputy Permanent Secretary (Professional) at the Ministry of Health, Dr Hj Zulaidi Hj Abdul Latif, on Saturday said 2017 statistics showed that there were 776 end stage renal disease (ESRD) patients undergoing haemodialysis treatment, peritoneail dialysis and kidney transplants.

In addition to that, there were 120 patients attending the pre-end stage renal disease (pre-ESRD) clinic.

“This is an indication of how many more patients that we can expect to suffer from end stage renal disease and [who will] require renal replacement treatment,” said Dr Hj Zulaidi.

In April this year, the Minister of Health, YB Dato Paduka Dr Haji Mohd Isham Jaafar, said the number of patients requiring renal replacement treatment has doubled in the last 15 years. In 2011, there were only 562 ESRD patients.

Government spending on dialysis represented five to 10 per cent of the national healthcare budget, the minister added.

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To prepare for a continued rise in ESRD patients, the Nursing Services Department launched a six-month renal nursing course on Saturday, starting with 11 nursing personnel.

Head of Nursing Services at the Renal Services Department, Hj Mohd Saidi Ismail, said the course will nursing staff with the skills and experience needed to care for patients with kidney failure.

He added that a second round of training will start in July 2019, targeting a larger number of participants so that the ministry can reach the ideal nurse-to-patient ratio for renal services.

“The recommended ratio will depend on the area. If it is an acute centre like the RIPAS Hospital, ideally ratio should be one nurse to two patients. If in a chronic centre like the Rimba Dialysis Centre, the ratio should be one nurse to four patients.”

Currently, Brunei has four dialysis centres — RIPAS Hospital Renal Unit, Rimba Dialysis Centre, Kiarong Dialysis Centre and Suri Seri Begawan Dialysis Centre in Kuala Belait.