by Aileen P. Refuerzo / PIO
A week into its scheduled launch on Jan. 17, the media-led signature campaign to rally the public in urging the government to provide free dialysis treatment for all kidney patients received a startup from the city council.
The council last Monday una-nimously approved a resolution of support to the drive initiated by the Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters Club Inc. (BCBC) and the Philippine Information Agency-Cordillera to give kidney patients total relief from the dialysis expenses.
The signature campaign will formally open via a “Kapihan” radio program set at 9:30 a.m. at the PIA-CAR office where officials from various local government units in the region can express their support to the cause on air.
The BCBC headed by veteran newsman Ramon Dacawi and PIA-CAR under Director Helen Tibaldo encouraged other government officials in the provincial, city, municipal and barangay levels to also approve resolutions requesting the Office of the President, the Senate and House of Representatives, the Department of Health, PhilHealth and other national government agencies to pool their resources and come up with a Unified Free Dialysis Health Program for the whole country.
Dacawi, himself a dialysis patient, said a free dialysis medical policy would relieve patients and their families of the continuing financial burden they have to bear for their ailing kin to survive.
“It will also address the increasing number of patients who after exhausting their resources surrender from their dialysis treatment and just wait for death to come,” Dacawi said citing the case of a fellow patient Jane Lamlamag Garcia who died last month shortly after voluntarily foregoing treatment to give way to her two daughters who are also sick.
After using up all her annual PhilHealth dialysis allocation, Garcia decided to go home to the province not wanting to add burden to her family already hard-up in locating funds for the continued medication of her daughters, one of whom is suffering from leukemia and the other from epilepsy.
“It is fact that news of dialysis patients giving up hope and on life is becoming the “normal” thing to do for patients who have exhausted their resources in attempting to sustain this life-time medical procedure for them to live,” Dacawi said.
Councilors Edgar Avila and Peter Fianza, principal authors of the resolution, agreed that dialysis treatment should be made free as it would “free dialysis patients and their families of the continuing financial problem brought about by the need for them to continuously shoulder the cost of dialysis.”
They said many patients all over the country had to borrow substantial sums of money to pay for life-saving, four-hour medical procedure and make it to the New Year, when a fresh annual support of 90 free dialysis sessions is issued by PhilHealth.
The 90 sessions is not enough even for the regular twice-a-week dialysis or 104 sessions a year while there are many patients who require more three or even four-times-a-week treatment.
Moreover, the PhilHealth support is whittled down when dialysis patients have to be hospitalized, with the confinement chargeable to the said allocation equivalent to one treatment session for a day of hospitalization.
“In a continuing attempt to cover the shortfall, dialysis patients and their relatives have to seek support through the government’s social welfare agencies, members of the Senate and House of Representatives and local government officials;
“While the support through the budgetary allocation of political leaders is welcome, its coverage is limited to patients who make and follow requests for support, to the neglect of those who are not aware of the procedure on how to access these sources of fund support,” the resolution said.
They said the local government’s support to the call for the grant of free dialysis to kidney patients is in order.
They resolved to send copies of BCBC Special Resolution 01-2016 entitled “A resolution to provide substance to the coming New Year by launching a signature campaign on Jan. 17 to rally the public in urging the government to provide free dialysis treatment for all Filipino citizens who have to undergo this emergency life-saving medical procedure for a lifetime” be mailed to the Office of the President, the Senate and House of Representatives, Department of Health, PhilHealth, the Department of Social Welfare and Development and other government offices having to do with the promotion of dialysis as an emergency medical procedure and service.