renal patients
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[box type=”default” size=”large”] Appeal for humanitarian treatment from NKTI, PCSO and LGUs [/box]

MANILA — Patients who have to undergo hemodialysis thrice weekly are organizing themselves in an effort to seek relief from the high costs of solutions and the procedures they have to undergo to prolong their lives.

Marivi Toledo, external coordinator of the less than 100 members of Hemodialysis Patients Organization (HDPO), who has been a dialysis patient herself for the past three years, said that while the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) has doubled the dialysis sessions for its members from 45 to 90 each year, the package rate, however, has been reduced from P4,500 to only P2,600 per session, with P2,250 being paid to the health care institution (HCI), mainly the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI), and P350 for the professional fee.

This, Toledo said, meant that from P4,000 for 45 sessions or P180,000 annually, PhilHealth members now will have to pay for the higher professional dialysis fee that rose to P550 in October 2015 and will rise to P700 by January 2016.

“Sad to say,” Toledo said,”the number of dialysis patients has not been reduced. From only 4,000 patients in 2004 recorded by the Department of Health (DOH), the number rose to 23,000 by yearend 2013. The number is steadily growing.”

“Hindi pa kasama rito ang mga pasyenteng may ‘kidney failure’ ngunit hindi na nakapagpapagamot o nagpapadialysis dahil sa kawalan, or kakulangan, ng salapi,” she disclosed.

Flerida “Gigi” Sabawil, HDPO president, said that the number of those fortunate enough to undertake kidney transplant is limited on account of the very expensive procedure and the difficulty of finding a perfect matching donor.

Toledo and Sabawil said that contrary to popular belief that dialysis patients can afford treatment and transplants, they said a study conducted by the Philippine Society of Nephrology (PSN) showed that 60 percent of patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) are service patients.

Research conducted by Dr. Romina Danguilan and published in 2013 noted that the average monthly income of CKD patients is $114 or P4,838.16, rendering them incapable of getting` treatment.

In fact, CKD patients are already in Stage 5 when they seek treatment in tertiary hospitals.

Even for PhilHealth members undergoing dialysis, the increase in the number of sessions did not include an increase in the amount reserved for the professional fee, Toledo and Sabawil said.

“Bukod sa sariling gastos, ang mga pasyenteng may CKF at ang kanilang mga kamag-anak at kaibigan ay lumalapit sa iba’t ibang pulitiko, nono-government organizations (NGOs) at foundations, ahensya ng gobyerno, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) at iba pa upang matugunan ang pagpapagamot nila,” they added.

The HDPO officers said that what compounds the problems of dialysis patients is that the NKTI can serve only 150 patients a day and at any one time, only four slots are available for service patients and 26 are reserved for paying patients.

“You cannot quicken the procedure,” Toledo said, “since full drainage is required otherwise mamanasin ang pasyente. It means lying on the bed for three to four hours per session.”

The HDPO officers are asking NKTI to allow more service patients to avail themselves of slots for dialysis, noting that at present, dialysis patients have to go through a raffle to determine who would be served first.

“For this reason, nagbabasakali ang mga pasyente, pati na iyong mga galing sa malalayong lugar na kailangang makitulog kung saan-saan upang hindi mahuli sa pagbubukas ng NKTI,” Toledo also said.

“Ang aming hinihiling ay kung maaari ay magkaroon ng mapagkawang-gawang kamalayan ang ating mga namumuno sa pamahalaan at makapaglagay na rin ng pondo na nakatakda upang mabawasan ang gastusin ng mga kagaya namin. Napakalaking tulong na rin kung magkakaroon sana ng ‘lodging’ o pansamantalang tirahan ang mga pasyente upang sa gayon ay mabawasan na rin ang kanilang gugulin,” Toledo added.