Editorial comment – Dialysis treatment

Fiji's Minister for Health and Medical Services Rosy Akbar chats with Robert Ram, a kidney dialysis patient, during her visit to the Labasa Hospital today. Picture: SERAFINA SILAITOGA

THE revelation that kidney patients with less than $30,000 income will now pay only $75 per session for dialysis treatment will no doubt be welcomed.

At least by those who stand to benefit immediately.

Minister for Health and Medical Services Rosy Akbar confirmed that children under the age of 18, irrespective of household income status, would be provided free dialysis treatment.

Launching the initiative at the Labasa Hospital yesterday, Ms Akbar said the Government would subsidise the remaining costs.

This, she said, was part of the $3.5 million announced in the recent national budget and would cater for the dialysis treatment costs.

In addition, she said, procedural services such as hemodialysis catheter insertions and AV (arteriovenous) fistula surgeries would be provided free by the Ministry of Health.

Previously, catheter insertions, she said, used to cost between $1500 and $2000 and AV fistula surgeries around $3000. She said the first outreach clinic would be conducted today and patients now do not need to travel to Suva for nephrology specialist services.

There is no doubt about the fact that this is a positive event for the people of the Northern Division. It is especially great news for patients who live in and around Labasa.

It means they can attend at least two treatments a week. Previously treatment was too expensive for many patients.

As Labasa Hospital board chairman Ami Kohli said, while the number of patients continued to rise, most don’t have enough money to pay for the higher costs because of financial constraints.

He acknowledged the assistance, suggesting it would bring about financial relief for many families.

The revelation is obviously one that would attract attention for patients and their families.

The assistance is acknowledged. The challenge though is on us as individuals to be proactive.

It falls on us to be healthy, keeping ourselves fit and active, watching our blood sugar level and pressure, eating healthy food and keeping our weight in check, and staying hydrated to suggest a few actions we can take.

The best cause of action ultimately is to avoid getting to the stage where we need dialysis treatment.

That means being proactive.

It means being aware and being enthusiastic about our health.

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