Manto: R450 000 for a new liver

2007-10-03 14:49

Cape Town - A new liver costs about R450 000, according to Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang - herself the recent recipient of a new liver.

In a written reply to a question by the Inkatha Freedom Party's Ruth Rabinowitz in the National Assembly, she said hospital expenditure on liver transplants was, all inclusive, about R450 000 per patient.

Rabinowitz wanted to know whether excessive drinking was "a huge cost to the country" regarding road accident deaths, damage to women and children in domestic violence, and hospital spending on liver transplants.

Tshabalala-Msimang said her department had no information on the cost of loss of life in accidents due to excessive alcohol intake.

"Alcohol levels are at times requested for non-natural death investigations, but the cause of the accident is not determined by the department of health, just the cause of death," she said.

Confidential information

According to the Medical Research Council (MRC) figures for 2005, blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) were available in only 38.2% (8 988) of the 23 541 fatally injured people. Of these, 4 657 were positive for BAC.

These deaths included violence, suicide, transport, "other unintentional" causes and "undetermined" causes.

Of the 6 783 people who were fatally injured in "transport collisions", blood alcohol concentrations were available in 38.8% (2 635) of cases, with 1 365 being positive.

Regarding the cost of liver transplants due to excessive drinking, Tshabalala-Msimang said her department did not have information on the diagnosis of patients for this, as the information was confidential.

There had also not yet been any comparative study on the cost of smoking on health and that of alcohol, she said.

The department published regulations for health warning labels on alcoholic beverages on August 24 this year, and is finalising a policy on responsible alcohol use.


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