His Excellency Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III
President of the Republic of the Philippines
J.P. Laurel St., San Miguel, Manila 1005
Dear Mr. President,
According to a 2012 report, at least one Filipino dies every hour of kidney failure making it the number nine killer of Filipinos. And this number is expected to increase.
Quoting Neal Cruz in a 2010 Inquirer article, patients in end-stage kidney disease or kidney failure “…is actually a permanent disability worse than losing an arm or a leg because you can survive indefinitely without an arm and a leg but you cannot survive with failed kidneys.” It is to be noted that in other countries like Japan or Australia, their government pays for dialysis treatments as they consider kidney failure a permanent disability.
Surviving kidney disease patients continue to live because of either kidney transplant (which only few appear to avail of despite the Philhealth Z package) or dialysis (which appears to be chosen by the majority of these patients). For the year 2010, around 14,000 Filipinos are undergoing dialysis. However many other patients have also died because of inadequate or lack of dialysis treatments.
A patient undergoing hemodialysis in order to live will have to spend roughly six thousand pesos (P6,000.00) or higher per session for hemodialysis, dialyzer and erythropoietin injections. The estimate does not include yet blood transfusions some patients undergo during hemodialysis on top of the medications they are already having. This cost is tripled taking note of the optimum standard frequency of dialysis treatments of three times a week. Thus, patients resort to cost-cutting measures like dialyzer re-use, skipping erythropoietin injections and even skipping hemodialysis sessions compromising not just their health but their life.
It is clear that because of the lack of financial resources, only very few can actually afford thrice-a-week dialysis without financial help. Dialysis patients are thankful of the 45-free sessions given through Philhealth which is equivalent to a once-a-week dialysis. But given the function of healthy kidneys removing toxins in the body in a 24/7 basis, a once-a-week dialysis is not enough to sustain life.
With the landmark decision by the Supreme Court declaring the pork barrel as unconstitutional, funds that were allotted before to the lawmakers’ pork barrel will now be available. To recall, some of the beneficiaries of these pork barrel funds are hemodialysis patients who now have to look for alternative sources of assistance. With this development, may we humbly request that a certain amount be given to Philhealth to increase the number of free dialysis sessions to 100 (equivalent to twice-a-week dialysis sessions)?
If Philhealth can subsidize P600,000 to patients who will undergo kidney transplant, why not increase the no. of free sessions to patients undergoing dialysis enough to be able to have at least twice-a-week dialysis sessions? This will benefit more kidney failure patients increasing their chances to have adequate dialysis. In turn, those who are able to have adequate dialysis will continue to be productive despite their condition.
An increase in free dialysis sessions will certainly be welcomed by hemodialysis patients who badly need any assistance they could get and will be consistent with the government’s target of universal health care. Giving a budget for this directly through Philhealth will make it less prone to corruption.
As our President, we the undersigned are counting on your support to help the increasing number of hemodialysis patients throughout the country to have a chance at life. Please help us.
Dr. Narciso Tapia, MHPEd
President, Smiling Kidneys Club (a kidney and hemodialysis patients support group based in Cebu)
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