Govt distributes $47M to dialysis patients

…plans to offset lab, medication costs in future
In filling its promise to offer assistance to dialysis patients, the Government through the Health Ministry on Friday handed out a whopping $47.4 million to offset expenses for treatment.

Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony delivering a cheque to one of the patients

This mechanism comes under the newly-introduced $600,000 per patient assistance that will be allotted yearly. At the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, 79 persons collected their cheques. In this year’s budget, the Government allocated $180 million to support some 300 dialysis patients who require a series of dialysis treatments.
Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony used the opportunity to announce that additional mechanisms will be put in place to ease the hefty burden facing patients. In the near future, much-needed laboratory tests for dialysis patients will be processed through the public system.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Narine Singh handing over a cheque

“You need to have blood tests almost every month to monitor how you’re doing. They’re expensive. If you have to go to the private sector, it will cost you a lot of money. We are going to put some mechanisms in place to allow that the laboratory test, that we are going to do that in the public sector. We will be meeting the providers of dialysis and when they require to have laboratory tests done, they can take the sample and send those samples to our labs. The public sector would then be able to do those tests for you free of cost,” he informed the patients.
By the end of the year, Erythropoietin – a costly medication that patients would normally purchase independently – will be sourced through the Government and distributed.
Outlining this arrangement, the Minister enlightened, “One of the medicines that you normally would get is Erythropoietin. That too is very expensive. Some of you probably end up every two weeks, you have to pay another $7000 or $9000 depending on where you’re going to get it…We’ve decided that one way we can help is that we’ll put Erythropoietin as part of the medicines that we’ll be procuring for the country. We’ll make that available to every dialysis patient free of cost.”
While the Government has provided the funds, Dr Anthony said patients can decide on which aspect of treatment they desire to spend the money.
“You can decide which one of the dialysis providers you want to go to. Some dialysis providers provide at a cheaper rate than others. You must decide which one you want to go to make sure you get the best value for your money. That’s totally up to you.”
Statistics indicate that 50 per cent of dialysis patients are admitted to hospitals due to various treatment constraints. Some persons would require such a procedure three times per week.
Clifton Porter, whose wife has been undergoing dialysis, told <<<Guyana Times>>> that he is extremely thankful for the much-needed assistance. Hailing from Kuru Kururu on the Linden-Soesdyke Highway, he noted, “It is very helpful and thoughtful of the Government to help out poor people in such a manner. Honestly, I could not have afforded it three times per week. This is going to help a lot”.
Meanwhile, 16-year-old Adacia Semple travels from Berbice to Georgetown every week for dialysis. She related that this would assist in transportation and treatment costs.
“I started treatment in August last year. I’m from West Coast Berbice and the fee to come to South is about $10,000 almost every other day due to the distance. It’s very expensive so and it will also help in many other ways.”
In addition, Tejwattie Sasenarine of Mon Repos on the East Bank of Demerara also shared, “I can’t afford it so I’m glad to get it. It would help me out for a two times per week session for a couple of months…I’m glad I got it thanks to the Government.”
Officer-in-Charge at the Pan American Health Organisation, Dr Daniel Albrecht lauded this initiative as one step closer to expanding access.