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Senate bill proposes free dialysis treatment for poor patients

A senator has filed a bill requiring all national, regional, and provincial government hospitals to provide free dialysis treatment to poor patients.

Senator Sonny Angara, author of Senate Bill 1329 or the proposed Dialysis Center Act, said the measure is in line with the government’s efforts “to reform the health sector and provide Filipinos with comprehensive health services.”

Angara noted that poor patients suffering from kidney ailment who are living in the provinces could not afford the expenses of traveling all the way to urban cities to seek dialysis treatment.

“The optimum frequency of dialysis is three times a week, but because of its high cost and inaccessibility, some patients settle with less, thus causing their health to deteriorate more progressively,” the senator pointed out.

“Worse, some patients have died without being given a chance to undergo dialysis simply because they could not afford it,” he said.

Section 5 of the bill provides that dialysis treatment in all national, regional and provincial hospitals shall be given for free to indigent patients.

“Indigent” refers to a patient whose combined annual family income does not exceed P30,000 annually.

Angara said experts have estimated that there are already 3.51 million Filipinos aged 20-79 in 2015 who have diabetes, a major risk factor for kidney diseases.

Based on the data from the Philippine Network for Organ Sharing of the Department of Health (DOH), close to 23,000 patients underwent dialysis treatment due to kidney failure in 2013.

The figure, the DOH noted, did not include those suffering from kidney failure but who were not able to undergo dialysis treatment due to its high cost and inaccessibility especially in the rural areas. —Kathrina Charmaine Alvarez/ALG, GMA News