By Charissa Atienza
Negros Occidental Rep. Ma. Lourdes Arroyo is calling on her colleagues to support the passage of a measure seeking to grant free dialysis treatment to indigent patients.
She has filed House Bill 391 seeking the establishment of a dialysis ward or unit in all national, regional, and provincial government hospitals.
“Accessibility and availability of dialysis centers in the country remains limited. Advanced hospital and medical equipment and facilities are mostly found in highly urbanized cities,” Arroyo said.
“End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) patients from rural areas have to travel all the way to these urban cities just to receive the medical treatment they need. However, in cases of indigent ESRD patients, they hardly even get a session of dialysis,” she laments.
Arroyo, who served as Kasangga party-list representative from 2007 to 2010, said dialysis patients need to get two to three treatments a week that will cost them about P20,000 to P30,000 per month.
“Cost of dialysis treatment for ESRD patients is usually exorbitant and beyond reach of most patients. Renal transplant, on the other hand, is costly and limited due to the shortage of donors,” she said.
House Bill 391 or the proposed “Dialysis Center Act” provides that all national, regional, and provincial hospitals are required to establish, operate, and maintain a dialysis ward or unit in their hospitals.
The dialysis ward or unit shall be equipped with complete dialysis machine, equipment, and supplies, it said.
The bill provides that the dialysis treatment shall be provided free of charge to indigent ESRD patients. The free dialysis treatment is on top of the 90 free dialysis sessions covered by Philhealth.
Under HB 391, any hospital chief, administrator or officer-in-charge who fails to comply with the proposed Act shall be punished with a fine of P250,000 but not more than P500,000.
The measure tasks the Secretary of the Department of Health (DOH) to promulgate the implementing rules and regulations of the proposed Act.
The initial appropriations for the implementation of the proposed Act shall be sourced from the National Treasury and thereafter, the amount necessary for the continuous implementation of the proposed Act shall be included in the government hospital’s annual appropriations.