Government subsidy on kidney dialysis treatment to be activated soon

Minister for Health and Medical Services Rosy Akbar speaks during the 4th Fijian Annual Nephrology Symposium. Picture: SUPPLIED

A GOVERNMENT subsidy on kidney dialysis treatment will be activated soon that is anticipated to benefit low-income earning families who are unable to sustain present costs of treatment.

Fiji’s Minister for Health and Medical Services Rosy Akbar made this announcement at the 4th Fijian Annual Nephrology Symposium that was held at Pacific Harbour, saying 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, despite the “high out of pocket” cost related to accessing treatment.

“As such, for the first time, an allocation of $3.5million has been allocated towards subsidising dialysis for patients in the 2018-2019 budget. The access to this subsidy will follow a fair and transparent system,” Ms Akbar said.

She said the Government was concerned about dialysis treatment because it realised most people were unable to afford $250 a session of treatment, which totaled to $40,000 a year if dialysis was done three times a week.

“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,” Ms Akbar said.

She added the ministry was also boosting the expertise and the facilities around the country to complement such initiatives as the subsidy.