DIALYSIS PATIENTS struggling to cope with the daily and life-time pressure of how to support their two- to four times a week treatment in order to survive expressed hopes Congress would finally pass a pending bill making the life-saving procedure free of charge, as is the case in other countries.
Baguio congressman Mark Go, a co-author of the bill, told patients here last week that contentious provisions have been removed from the bill in order to make it at par with the medical practice in Western countries where dialysis is done free of charge, it being a life=saving procedure.
“We have removed the section providing that only patients with incomes less than P50,000 a month would be entitled to free dialysis,” Go said in a dialogue with Baguio patients.
This provision, patients said, would force those earning more than P50,000 a month to mis-declare their monthly earnings tp be legible for the impending government medical support.
As one patient observed: “Even if a patient can still work despite his/her medical condition and earns P200,000 a month can not maintain the cost of his dialysis, especially so if his family is renting an apartment and he has children going to school.”
Most patients undergo dialysis twice a week, with each session costing P2,200, aside from being injected with blood-regulating medicine also twice a week at P1,200 per ampule.
Patients here and all over the country found relief a few years back when Philhealth,the Philippines’ health care support program, approved a Baguio a city council resolution authored by councilor Peter Fianza doubling its free-dialysis sessions support from 45 to 90 sessions a year.
Mayor Domogan followed up the resolution when he spoke at the inauguration of the Philhealth’s office at Teacher’s Camp.
Notwithstanding the doubling of the free dialysis sessions, patients who need to be hospitalized are reluctant to do so as their yearly 90-dialysis allocation would be whittled down for each day of confinement.
“With this arrangement, I would be reluctant to be confined even if I have to as I would not be able to complete my dialysis for the whole year,” a patient said.
Faced with this predicament, the Baguio General Hospital Dialysis Patients and Partners Association last year submitted a resolution asking the country’s senators and congressmen to automatically pool part of their annual medical assistance fund from which hospitals can automatically draw payments for dialysis.
Under the present procedure, patients have to personally make a written request and attach to it their social case studies and medical papers, together with their certificates of indigency, each time they request support from a congressman or senator.
“More than this cumbersome procedure is the fact that legislators tend to favor some patients by issuing them more assistance than others,” another patient observed.
On top of these requests, patients in Baguio are asking provincial hospitals from all over the country to set up their own dialysis centers to cope with the growing number of patients who have to travel far to undergo dialysis. This provision is included in the bill, congressman Go said.
They point out that all the provincial hospitals will do is to provide the space where private companies like Fresenius and B-Brown setting up their dialysis machines.
The lack of provincial dialysis centers has forced people from the Ilocos and other regions to travel weekly for treatment at the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, the annual resources of which are also depleted by the large number of other patients from outside the Cordillera coming in because of the quality of health care here.
“A case in point is that of a woman from Pangasinan who has no choice but to sleep in the hospital chapel while waiting for her next dialysis as she does not have the resources and medical condition to travel,” noted dialysis nurse Carmen Bumatnong.
Meanwhile, the BGHMC patients are still smarting from the so-called “Kalayaan Run” mounted by a group led by Omeng Fallarme, Eric Encarnacion and Bong Reyes last June 9 which they announced was to raise funds for the dialysis patients.
As it turned out, however, the organizers said they spent so much for the materials, food and drinks and other needs, resulting in losses.
Their financial report, however, reflected included staff’s salary of P31,000; operational expenses of P49,672; talent fees for hosts and entertainers of P16,000; P18,700 for musicians’ food and drinks; transport expenses amounting to P21,930; and P198,500 for physical set-up.
On this, lawyer Salazar, himself a dialysis patient, wrote: “The fact that you have been griping over not being able to receive any money from the proceeds of the Kalayaan Trail Run, is already a source of embarrassment because people are beginning to think that “sobra namang kapal ng mukha natin pagdating sa pagpapalimos ng pera”. As I always say:”ipasa Diyos nyo na yan”. Karma always balances out injustices.”
To this, a patient pointed out that ”we are not mukhang pera but, given our financial and medical condition, we were looking forward to using the would-be funds raised for the fixing of our defective fistulas needed for us to continue undergoing dialysis.”
The patients were also smarting upon learning that a city hall lady employee also solicited P50,000 for the fun run but pocketed the amount. – Ramon Dacawi