In observance of June as National Kidney Month, Senator Sonny Angara is calling for a wider access to free dialysis treatment amid rising number of Filipinos suffering from renal failure.
"With kidney disease fast becoming one of the leading causes of death in the country, it is imperative to ensure that dialysis treatment will be available, accessible and cost-effective, especially to those living in rural areas," Angara said.
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, a huge jump from 4,000 cases recorded in 2004, or a 10 to 15 percent increase per year.
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.
In 2013, kidney disease was the sixth leading cause of death in the Philippines. According to the National Kidney Institute, one Filipino develops chronic renal failure every hour or about 120 Filipinos per million population a year.
This is why Angara is pushing for the approval of his proposed measure that would give free dialysis treatment to kidney disease-stricken Filipinos living in the provinces.
Under his Senate Bill No. 1329 or the proposed "Dialysis Center Act," all national, regional and provincial government hospitals are required to establish, operate and maintain a dialysis ward or unit that will give free treatment to indigent kidney patients.
Angara filed the measure, noting 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, and the high cost of the procedure itself, which is needed on a regular and sustained basis.
"The optimum frequency of dialysis is three times a week but because of its high cost and inaccessibility, some patients settle with less but with their health deteriorating more progressively," Angara pointed out.
"Worse, some patients have died without given a chance to undergo dialysis because they could not afford it," he added.
The cost for each dialysis treatment, including the use of machines and medicines, is between P2,000 to P2,500 in government hospitals, and around P4,000 in private facilities.
June is celebrated every year as the National Kidney Month by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 184 signed on May 31, 1993 by then President Fidel Ramos. The declaration aims to instill consciousness and increase public awareness of the fatal consequences of renal diseases.