Eligible kidney patients urged to apply for special state govt aid

Fatimah (left) converses with consultant Nephrologist Dr Clare Tan (right) and Muhd Nur-Afiq.

KUCHING, May 28: The Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Ministry has so far only received 34 applications for special aid for kidney patients introduced by the state government.

Urging Sarawakians who are eligible kidney patients to apply for the aid, its minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah said this was one of the state government’s commitments to help lessen the financial burden of the needy especially those in the B40 or M40 groups.

To-date, the ministry has received four applications from Kuching, Sri Aman (2), Sarikei (2), Sibu (6) and Miri (20).

“We understand the difficulties faced by kidney patients as Sarawak records about 250 new patients annually. The burden shouldered by patients is heavy so the government is providing this assistance to ease their burden, provided they are not civil servants, pensioners or receiving Socso (Social Security Organisation) aid.

“Under the aid, recipient will be given a one-off maximum aid of RM3,000 each for receiving Arteriovenous Fistula (AVF) treatment, a maximum of RM240 per month for those receiving Erythropoietin (EPO), a maximum of RM200 per session for patients undergoing haemodialysis treatment or RM2,400 a month, and a maximum of RM2,800 per month for Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis (CAPD) treatment,” Fatimah said before presenting financial aid to a successful applicant today.

Aid for dialysis in centres run by non-governmental organisations is set at RM100 per session and RM200 per session at private hospitals for referral patients, of 13 sessions a month.

For transplant procedures in government hospitals which has no charge, Fatimah explained that RM5,000 in one-off aid would be disbursed to cover the expenses of patients and family members getting operations in Kuala Lumpur.

Patients staying in rural areas will be provided with a RM50 travelling allowance per dialysis session to assist with transportation cost.

“Based on Sarawak Health Department (JKNS) records for 2018, it shows that there are 3,317 kidney patients in the state. Of these, 2,920 were undergoing hemodialysis, 275 were undergoing Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis (CAPD) and the rest, 122, had undergone renal transplants.

“Of the total hemodialysis patients, 1,183 patients underwent treatment at government treatment centres, 702 at private treatment centres, and 1,035 were at treatment centres operated by non-governmental organisations,” Fatimah said.

The lack of hemodialysis treatment slots at government and NGO treatment centres means that patients have to be referred to a private surgery centre for hemodialysis treatment or receive more risky CAPD treatment for infection.

Fatimah added that 112 out of 314 total hemodialysis machines in government treatment centres are over eight years old and need to be replaced with new ones.

“The allocation of the Ministry of Health Malaysia to improve services for kidney care nationwide is limited to RM6 million a year. The estimated cost of purchasing a hemodialysis machine is RM42,000.

“Previously, there had been no special assistance for kidney patients funded by the Sarawak government. My ministry can only provide monthly general or chronic medical assistance of RM200 to RM300 a month. The amount is insufficient to cover the monthly cost of kidney patients,” she explained.

In this regard, she hoped that this special aid for kidney patients will enhance the ministry’s function in providing social services to those in need in Sarawak, adding that it will also improve the quality of life of kidney patients in Sarawak in terms of reducing the cost of patient care so they can lead a more comfortable life.

Muhd Nur-Afiq with his mock cheque for the special financial aid for kidney patients from the Sarawak government.

Meanwhile, aid recipient Grab driver Muhd Nur-Afiq Rambli, 22, thanked the Sarawak government for the special aid as it will definitely ease the financial commitment for his medical treatment.

“I earn about RM1,000 per month. This is not enough so my parents had to take whatever work they can to generate extra income. I have five other siblings, which means my parents have to look after them as well.

“Alhamdullilah, thank you for this assistance. My parents also thank the government and we are grateful,” Nur Afiq said. — DayakDaily