Bid to increase allocation defeated

Assistant Minister for Sugar Industry George Vegnathan and Opposition MP Lenora Qereqeretabua at Parliament yesterday. Picture: JONA KONATACI

A motion to increase the allocation for kidney dialysis in the 2020-2021 National Budget was defeated during the sitting of the Committee of Supply in Parliament on Wednesday.

National Federation Party (NFP) vice president and member of Parliament Lenora Qereqeretabua had moved the motion to increase the amount by $3.5 million from the current $100,000 that is allocated in the 2020-2021 budget.

“The need for kidney dialysis is a very serious need,” she said.

“So can we just plead again please, in the spirit of humanity, that we do not deny those that are afflicted with kidney problems for whom their life or death is now about whether or not they can have money for dialysis.”

Health Minister Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete said the National Kidney Research and Treatment Centre would be fully operational in November 2020.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the supplier’s ability to deliver the three reverse osmosis machines,” he said.

“So we ordered them, we paid for them, the 15 dialysis machines arrived on time as I have said, but the reverse osmosis machines did not arrive,” he said.

“It was not our fault, it was already prepaid.”

He said the reverse osmosis machines and the dialysis machines were from a German-based supplier, Fresenius Medical Care.

“They were able to deliver the 15 dialysis machines,” said Dr Waqainabete.

“So what you are saying is that once the equipment arrives and is all set up, that kidney dialysis will be provided to everyone who needs it?” asked NFP leader Prof Biman Prasad.

Mr Waqainabete said treatment will be free for those whose income is below $30,000.

“Already our nephrologist, who is an Australian trained officer, has identified 40 patients and is beginning to see them and talk to them.”

He added the ministry had considered moving dialysis patients to private treatment.

“I can tell you what we are beginning to realise is that some of the private retailers were beginning to bump up their costs by another $75 and we do not want to do that.

“As soon as they heard that we had this $75, they were going to go up to $275,” he said.

Dr Waqainabete added 15 to 20 patients are on dialysis subsidy treatment in the Northern Division.

More Stories