Poor health facilities in Nalibar district, Assam, forced chronic kidney failure patient Akhil Khalita (29) to leave his hometown and live in Chandigarh.
With finance minister Arun Jaitley announcing the setting up of dialysis centres in every district hospital, he has much reason to cheer.
Akhil has been undergoing treatment for the last two years at the PGIMER (Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research) and has spent more than Rs 2 lakh on dialysis only and this expensive treatment has left him cashless.
“In Nalibar, there is no facility for dialysis. Hence, I had come to PGI for treatment. I undergo dialysis at a private clinic in Sector 16 and spent around Rs 1,200 per dialysis session and Rs 1,000 on injections,” he said.
For patients like Akhil, who were forced to leave their homes for better treatment, the finance minister’s announcement, while presenting the Union Budget, has come as a relief.
In his speech, Jaitley said about 2.2 lakh new patients of end stage renal disease get added in India every year, resulting in an additional demand for 3.4 crore dialysis sessions.
He further added that the demand is only half met, as majority of dialysis centres are in the private sector and that too concentrated in the major towns.
He said patients have to travel long distances to get access to dialysis centres incurring heavy expenditure, including travel and loss of wages. Every dialysis session costs about Rs 2,000, an annual expenditure of more than Rs 3 lakh.
ADDRESSING THE CONCERN
To address this situation, the minister has proposed to start a ‘National Dialysis Services Programme’. To provide dialysis services in all district hospitals across the country, funds will be raised through publicprivate partnership (PPP) mode under the national health mission. Further, to reduce the cost, the minister also proposed to exempt certain parts of dialysis equipment from basic customs duty, excise and other taxes.
An official from PGI said, “Last week, they held a meeting in New Delhi to discuss this issue. It was decided that space and dialysis machine will be provided by the government and the rest of the expenditure will be borne by private units. Government will bear the cost of treatment.”
BURDEN ON PGI
The number of cases of kidney disease is only increasing. In Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, the cases have increased from 8,000 in 2012 to 22,000 in 2015.
Dr KL Gupta, head, nephrology department, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research said out of these, 50% are suffering from chronic kidney failure and hardly 20% get treatment. Further, there are nearly 200 kidney failure cases awaiting (live donor) transplant and 800 are in the waiting list for ( cadaveric donor) transplant.