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Subsidy Brings Relief for Fijians Needing Treatment

Subsidy Brings Relief for Fijians Needing Treatment
Minister for Health and Medical Services Rosy Akbar (seventh from left) with the medical team from New Zealand and Friends of Fiji members on October 11, 2018. Photo: Nacanieli Tuilevuka
October 12
11:00 2018

Kidney dialysis treatment will be reduced to a significant cost for 16 people in the Northern Division who are suffering from kidney problems.

Thanks to the FijiFirst Government.

The Haemodialysis Subsidy Programme is also anticipated to benefit low income earning families who are unable to sustain the present treatment cost.

After the subsidy programme was activated yesterday, patients now only need to pay $75 per haemodialysis (kidney dialysis) treatment at the Labasa Hospital.

Children under the age of 18 will be provided dialysis at no cost, irrespective of household income status.

Lekh Ram, 62, of Tabia, said with the high cost of living, the subsidy was timely.

“I would like to thank officials of the centre for organising the free treatment so that we can save $80,” Mr Ram said.

“I travel to Labasa two to three times in a week. In one trip I spend $300 to get my treatment done,” he said.

Mr Ram, who has been on dialysis treatment since 2016, is a farmer. He sells his produce to middlemen and women market vendors to help pay for the treatment.

“Kidney problem is the most expensive sickness,” Mr Ram said.

“If I don’t take dialysis on schedule I will suffer from shortness of breath, feel lazy and won’t be able to do any work. There is no cure for this sickness.”

He is urging parents to look after their children and to have regular health checks.

“If my parents had been doing my medical checks there would have been an early detection of my kidney problem,” he said.

Robert Ram, 55, of Vunicuicui, said the subsidy for Kidney Dialysis came as a relief for Fijians in need of treatment.

“I thank the Bainimarama Government for the timely assistance,” he said.

“Since 2014, I had been coming to the Labasa Hospital for weekly treatment,” Mr Ram said.

“In the past, we poor people struggled paying for the treatment. In a week, I would use more than $1000 for accommodation and transport.

“Many of my friends have died from kidney failure and because treatment was expensive.”

Minister for Health and Medical Services Rosy Akbar said as part of the Government’s commitment to making the access to dialysis affordable and equitable, it would administer the subsidy without compromising quality of care.

She revealed that about 600 Fijians developed complete kidney failure or end stage kidney disease every year and chronic kidney disease (CKD) was among the top 10 causes of death in the country.

She said at present, there were about 120 to 150 patients on dialysis treatment in the six centres nationwide.

“As such, for the first time, $3.5million has been allocated towards subsidising dialysis for patients in the 2018-2019 budgets,” she said.

“The access to this subsidy will follow a fair and transparent system.”

Ms Akbar said the Government was concerned about dialysis treatment because it realised most people were unable to afford $250 a session of treatment.

“The ministry’s focus initially was to set up dialysis for acute renal failure, and since 2016, hundreds of lives have been saved through this treatment in our intensive care units.

“Our focus then shifted to patients with Chronic Kidney Failure and how best to support them.”

Ms Akbar said out of the 600 people, who developed kidney failure; at least half of them would be suitable for dialysis treatment.

But, because of costs attached, only 50 to 60 patients went on dialysis treatment every year. She said the ministry would soon publish how patients could access the subsidy, but this would include a formal assessment of household income.

“The National Kidney Research and Treatment Centre, which is undergoing fit outs, will become Fiji’s first public system chronic dialysis service.

“And depending on household income patients will be able to access treatment for as low as $75 per session,” she said.

Ms Akbar will also launch the subsidy programme in other parts of the country by mid November.

Edited by Percy Kean



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