A rising dollar against the rupee, along with other factors, has triggered an inflationary wave in the country unlike any other; resultantly, medical expenses have also gone through the roof, especially for those requiring dialysis.
The country has an estimated 25 million people who suffer from different kidney ailments including chronic kidney disease (CKD) and most require a dialysis on a regular basis to make their condition better.
However, when inflation triggers price increases patients have to forgo treatments so as to not further burden their pockets — a choice which can lead to an untimely death. Sadeeq Khan, a resident of Peshawar, had to recently make such a choice for his brother. “He required dialysis on a weekly basis.
Recently, the private hospitals started quoting us Rs 10,000 per dialysis and this was beyond us to pay,” a visibly torn Sadeeq informed, adding that they had even got the Sehat Card but it had not been of much use. When Sadeeq was not able to pay for the costly treatment anymore, his brother passed away. “The government claims that there is free treatment but that is only after a long wait. My brother died waiting.” Many others have shared the fate of Sadeeq’s sibling in recent times. However, Peshawar’s government hospitals still contend that free treatment is being provided. According to the Hayatabad Medical Complex Peshawar, they provided 142 patients with a dialysis in July; similarly as per representatives of Lady Reading Hospital Peshawar, they perform 1,8000 to 2,000 dialysis treatments every month, including for Afghan citizens; and officials of Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH) say that 19 bed units are available for dialysis patients with around 80 patients getting the procedure done daily.
Muhammad Sajjad Khan, Media Manager for KTH, informed the Express Tribune that the hospital provides the treatment free of cost to anyone. However, Dr Alamgir Khan, a urologist based in the city, is of the view that even that free treatment is not worth it. He further said that it was indeed true that this free treatment came after a long wait and many patients died whilst waiting for their turn.
“Unfortunately, there are no special hospitals for the treatment of kidney or to perform a dialysis in Peshawar,” Dr Alamgir remarked, adding that there was one hospital in Hayatabad, known as Institute of Kidney Disease (IKD) but that could not afford the burden of a high number of patients. The urologist suggested that perhaps time was ripe for the provincial government to act and build more kidney disease treatment centres as the lives of many patients were attached to the issue. In light of the patient’s plight, the Express Tribune contacted the provincial health secretary multiple times to question when the long wait times in government hospitals and high dialysis costs in private hospitals would be addressed, but did not hear back from him.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 29th, 2022.
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