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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Open Letter to President Aquino in behalf of all Hemodialysis Patients in the Philippines

December 30, 2013

His Excellency Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III
President of the Republic of the Philippines
MalacaƱang Palace
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)
Hemodialysis Patient

Sign the online petition with the same content as above by clicking then share to others. Thank you.

#PhilHealth #DOHphilippines #hemodialysis

Friday, December 27, 2013


As we celebrate Christ's birth, let me look back at the year that was.

I began the year very sick. I was losing weight fast and I was noticeably thin. With my IJ catheter as my initial access, I had bouts of on-and-off fever after a little over a month. I thought I won't survive the year.

Fast forward to December, I feel like I am born again even without a kidney transplant yet. I had a few willing kidney donors but eventually they got rejected because of me being CMV IgG negative and them being CMV IgG positive. But hey, my hemoglobin's up so that I don't have erythropoietin injections anymore and my BP has become normal. No return bouts of the fever and chills. And I helped established a new kidney patient support group, the Smiling Kidneys Club.

Smiling Kidneys Club family based in Asia Renal Care 1 Cebu
The Smiling Kidneys Club was born. It is envisioned to help kidney patients, hemodialysis patients cope with their condition. Members consist not just of patients, but also of families, caregivers, medical professionals taking care of thapatient or supporting the patient.

Initially, we are are requesting in behalf of other hemodialysis patients, for the free Philhealth sessions to be increased from 45 to 100 (equivalent to about 2x a week session frequency). Hopefully we can soon make a petition letter online for this. During the club's first Christmas Party we voiced this to Congressman Raul del Mar who said that we should work hand in hand to help the patients. Hopefully Philhealth, Pnoy and the Executive department listens and hopefully allots a budget for this especially that the pork barrel is scrapped. The millions meant for the individual pork barrels of senators and congressmen may hopefully be available for this, even as the remaining pork barrel was already aligned to the calamity funds.By helping subsidize more dialysis treatments, kidney patients can continue to be active contributors to society as they are able to perform tasks they are used to do when they were still healthy.

Lord as this baby of ours (The Smiling Kidneys Club) is born, may your bright star guide us in our mission. May You continue to provide us nourishment, inspiration and strength despite illness to perform our duties. Thank you for the gift of life. Thank you for giving us our loved ones, our supporters, our nurses, our doctors, our friends. Happy Birthday Jesus.

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