Tonga’s new dialysis centre is planned to be built at His Majesty’s Tufumāhina estate, a Ministry of Health spokesperson said.

He said negotiations are underway to secure the site opposite Tonga Gas Ltd for the centre which is about 2 kilometres away from Vaiola hospital.

Queen Nanasipau’u Tuku’aho has gifted the centre with a land from the royal estate, the spokesperson said.

As Kaniva news reported, a newly registered non-profitable organisation has been set up to run the operation.

Members of the organisation are the Minister of Health Saia Piukala, Director of Health Siale ‘Akau’ola, Victorina Afeaki Kioa, Dr Sione Lātū, Dr Lisiate ‘Ulufonua and Lord Vaea.

The facility would be established “at no cost to the government.”

A private company in Salt Lake City, Utah which currently operates three clinics including a dialysis centre, was partnering with the Ministry.

They offered free services for the public.

The US organization involved philanthropists who wanted to leave some of their money and wealth to charity, the spokesperson said.

As Radio New Zealand reported at the time, the Ministry has said in the past that it could not fund its own dialysis programme “because it would eat up 20 percent of the annual health budget for less than one percent of the population and it is not equitable distribution of meagre resources.”

The Ministry said there was a 17.7 percent prevalence of diabetes in Tonga, a number revised after it was regionally reported as 34.4 percent.

The Minstry said there were 200 patients in the kingdom with varying degrees of kidney disease and around 66 patients, or a third, are in Stage 5, requiring renal replacement therapy, or dialysis.

Tongan patients in New Zealand and around the globe have faced a painful death if they were sent back to Tonga because dialysis was not available there.

Last year a Tongan national, Tamahanga Tukunga, was among a growing number of Tongans in New Zealand who requested help from the New Zealand government.

He received dialysis three days a week and as a foreign national he was not entitled to that treatment and could be deported to Tonga within a year.

His treatment was paid by his relatives through fundraising, including sausage sizzles back in Tonga, and sending yams to sell in New Zealand.

The cost of the medical treatment was always a critical factor for overseas countries in deciding whether or not to grant visas to Tongan patients.

As Kaniva news reported recently, Sosefo Lakalaka was ordered to leave New Zealand by May 2019 after a tribunal found the burden on New Zealand’s public health system outweighed the exceptional humanitarian circumstances of his case.

Mr Lakalaka was paying off a $US10,768 medical bill and his ongoing treatment was costing the taxpayer $US13,463 a year.

A Tongan international and ‘Ikale Tahi player Sione Vaimo’unga, who was trapped in Romania on dialysis, was luckier after  Tonga’s Ministry of Health sought support from the Romanian government in 2017.

The Pacific Rugby Players Welfare finally reported last year that Vaiomo’unga was recovering well from a transplant after he had been on dialysis after being diagnosed three years previously.

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