Issue of January 8, 2017

66th Courier Anniversary Issue
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Crusade to make dialysis free to start in Cordillera
by Jane B. Cadalig and Hanna C. Lacsamana

The drive that seeks to petition the government to make hemodialysis service in state-run hospitals and health facilities free of charge is being bolstered.

The Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters’ Club (BCBC) asked local government units in the Cordillera to initiate a similar drive in their respective areas, in addition to passing resolutions supporting the call for the national government to offer free dialysis services for kidney patients.

“We want the LGUs to also initiate signature campaigns in their areas,” said BCBC president Ramon Dacawi.

The BCBC in partnership with the Philippine Information Agency, the government’s communication arm, will launch the signature campaign through a press conference on Jan. 17.

In a resolution, the BCBC acknowledged the increase in PhilHealth’s fund support for dialysis patients, which was from 45  sessions to 90 sessions a year. But  it added the aid can only cover as much, especially for patients undergoing a three to four times weekly dialysis.

“A patient undergoing a three times weekly dialysis needs to have 156 sessions a year, or 66 sessions more than the 90-session a year support from PhilHealth,” it said. 

Because of these considerations, the BCBC said it is for the best interest of kidney patients if the government, through the Department of Health, PhilHealth, Department of Social Welfare and Development, and Congress make dialysis a free medical service.

Dacawi, a kidney patient himself, said he proposed the project to the BCBC board not to serve his own cause but to help thousands of Filipinos suffering the ailment who have no access to financial assistance because they do not have any means of reaching public officials who have funds for the purpose, or from private benefactors.

When they were able to get assistance, the amounts usually are good for only a few sessions. Some who fail to get aid in time would die. A hemodialysis session costs P2,400 on the average.

Dacawi, from the time he was a city employee and up to now that he is also saving penny for his own medication after using up most of his retirement pay for treatment. He has become the go-to person of kidney patients and their relatives who want their appeals for help aired in the media so that their plight would reach good Samaritans. At times, he sacrifices his own medication and give it to some patients at the brink of danger for not having enough for treatment.

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