CHENNAI: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s announcement that over 2,000 renal dialysis facility centres will be set up at district hospitals across India, under the National Dialysis Programme will come as much relief to the poor who are forced to travel to metro cities for renal dialysis.
G Meenakshi (name changed) from Killingikuppam village in Cuddalore has to come all the way to Chennai on Mondays for her 13-year-old daughter’s renal dialysis. She has been commuting every week foregoing her wages for a couple of days which makes the cost of the trip prohibitively high.
“They pay me around Rs 120 daily (under MGNREGA scheme). I can not go to that work when I have to come to Chennai. I spend nearly Rs 1,000 every week to come here, for travel and lodging, if needed. I have pledged the little gold jewellery I had. Now I am exhausted,” says Meenakshi, whose husband is also a daily wager.
“Government hospitals in our district do not have dialysis machines for children, so I have to bring my child here every week,” says Meenakshi, who was sitting beside her daughter at the Institute of Child Health (ICH), Egmore.
Though the measure announced by the Finance Minister has brought much relief to many poor families who cannot afford to travel to metros, experts say, setting up facilities alone will not be a solution to this problem. Trained manpower and infrastructure are equally important. It can be a challenge given the shortage of nephrologists in the country.
Dr Georgi Abraham, founder, trustee TANKER Foundation, an NGO working for the underprivileged says, that dialysis should be performed only under the supervision of nephrologists. “But in TN, there are only 150 nephrologists for a population of approximately 70 million. So the huge manpower gap is going to be a big challenge,” says Dr Georgi Abraham, a nephrologist attached to the Madras Medical Mission.
Speaking to Express, Dr Padmaraj, head, Paediatric Nephrology Department at ICH, says technicians are important, but not many government hospitals recruit them.