By Ben Rosario
The difficult financial burden faced by over 20,000 Filipinos suffering from chronic kidney diseases (CKDs) has made it necessary to include them in the list of persons with disabilities granted special privileges.
Deputy Speaker and 1PACMAN Partylist Rep. Michael L. Romero aired this view as he called on colleagues in the House of Representatives to support House Bill 2120, proposing that chronic dialysis patients be given the same privileges enjoyed by PWDs.
CKD patients are now acknowledged as PWDs because CKD has been categorized as a disease, and not a disability.
Romero noted that there has been a sharp rise in the number of CKD patients who undergo regular dialysis in the past years.
Recent estimates indicate that there are currently more than 20,000 Filipinos who are undergoing expensive dialysis treatment at least twice per week.
Romero said that aside from the financial cost of undergoing dialysis, patients who no longer have normally functioning kidneys also face difficulties in leading normal lives, including attending to their regular jobs.
“Chronic dialysis patients or chronic kidney disease patients on dialysis are among those severely troubled by their disease which is why any assistance that will be received in the form of Philhealth or PCSO aid is very much valued,” said Romero, president of the Partylist Coalition of Foundation Inc.
However, the House official said amending the list of PWDs entitled to various benefits, including discounts on medicines and other basic needs, could be the best way of help CKD patients.
“CKD patients deserve the same privileges granted other PWDs because they also endure the same degree of difficulties faced by physically impaired persons,” explained Romero.
Under HB 2120, the NCDA is mandated to direct Philhealth to conduct an in-depth study on both direct and indirect cost of being affected by kidney disease.
Philhealth is also tasked to provide additional hemodialysis treatment coverage to allow patients, especially those with end-stage renal disease, to prepare for the cost of having a kidney transplant.
HB 2120 will also direct Philhealth to cover expenses for post-transplant medication.