Health dept sets up its first dialysis centre in Anantnag


Much to the relief of patients, health department has made its first dialysis centre operational at district hospital Anantnag (Islamabad).
The facility at the centre, running under Prime Minister’s National Dialysis Program, is offered at Rs 950, said an official at the directorate of health services Kashmir (DHSK). The treatment cost is far less than what is being charged in private sector where one session of dialysis costs between Rs 2000 to 3000.
“The centre has completed 200 dialysis sessions in just over a month, and registered over 30 patients suffering from chronic kidney disease (CKD),” the official said.
Last year the health department had announced it would make 10 dialysis centres operational across J&K. In absence of a government-run facility, the patients are forced to seek treatment at the privately operated centers.
Apart from high treatment cost, according to the official, the private centres have time and again come under radar for lack of mechanisms for proper dialysis and infection control. In such a scenario, medical experts and patients had been for long demanding dialysis centers at district hospital level. 
Mushtaq Ahmed, whose only source of income is a little shop in a remote village of Kupwara district, said he had to sell his land to fund dialysis of his father. Likewise, many people, whose incomes and assets have been drained in treatment of family members with kidney problems, the timely implementation of the central dialysis scheme would prove a huge respite.
Another official in DHSK said that for two years, no work was done on the scheme. “The wheels started moving only a few months ago,” said the official. He said that National Health Mission (NHM) did not even float expression of interest for private-public partnership (PPP), while the provision for such an arrangement lapsed.  He said that for past four months, health department has been focusing on making dialysis service functional.
As per a latest status report filed by health department, state is to have 45 dialysis machines donated by Fairfax Charitable Foundation Trust. Out of these, six each are already installed in Government Hospital Gandhi Nagar Jammu and DH Anantnag. The report said that four more dialysis centers would be made functional “shortly”. These centers are to be set up in Baramulla, Pulwama, Leh and Kargil hospitals.
Although no recruitment has been made for running these dialysis centers, the DHSK has been training its manpower in SKIMS nephrology department for running the upcoming facilities. The director health services Kashmir Dr Saleem-ur-Rehman said the department was making “internal arrangements” to provide reprieve to thousands of kidney patients in Kashmir. “We cannot wait till posts are created, referred and then filled,” he said.

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