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How the Government can wipe out the financial problems of dialysis patients

Posted Feb 18 2013 7:30pm
The Government spends more than Rs. 1,000 crores on the Hajj subsidy given to Muslim pilgrims every year. According to Wikipedia , Maulana Mahmood A. Madani, a member of the Rajya Sabha and general secretary of the Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Hind, declared that the Hajj subsidy is a technical violation of Islamic Sharia, since the Koran declares that Hajj should be performed by Muslims using their own resources.

Thankfully, the Supreme Court ordered that the Government end this practice by 2022. Well, in my humble opinion it should be done sooner. Why the delay?

Now, let us examine the statistics on dialysis patients. According to a oft-quoted paper titled " The Economics of Dialysis in India " by reputed nephrologist Dr. Umesh Khanna from Mumbai, there are about 20,000 patients undergoing dialysis in the country today in about 700 dialysis centers which have about 4000 dialysis machines. Let us take just these patients for now. The Government can easily make sure that dialysis is provided at Rs. 800 per session to them. The cost of thrice weekly sessions (many Indian patients don't even undergo thrice weekly sessions but let us give them much better dialysis) comes to just Rs. 230 crores!

It is estimated that only about a fifth of the patients who actually need dialysis get dialysis in India. The rest die due to their inability to afford the expensive treatment.

So, what would it cost to give the same thrice weekly dialysis to ALL the patients who require it? Simply multiply the above figure by 5. What do you get? Rs. 1,150 crores!!!

What does this mean? By diverting the money being spent on the Haj subsidy (which Muslims themselves do not want) to dialysis, you can provide very good dialysis to every Indian that needs it!!!

What could be more shocking than this?

Also, throw in guidelines like only people below a certain annual income can avail free dialysis, the rest have to pay a reasonable amount and you can actually even give them the required dose of Erythropoietin!!!

This is a startling fact! All this while at least I have been thinking that people in India don't get dialysis  because of a financial problem. Nothing could be farther from the truth! The reason people in India don't get dialysis is simply because the Government cannot think out of the box.

What about the cost of setting up the centers? This can easily be figured out and there are many companies in the country today that would be willing to give an arm and a leg to get those kinds of volumes!

Sadly, I know that even though this solution is possible, no one will act on it. Many patients will continue to die. And we will all blame the lack of money for this. Sad, indeed!
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