Swak govt approves special financial assistance for kidney patients

Fatimah (centre) giving a press conference on the special assistance by the Sarawak government for eligible kidney patients. To her right is Dr Tan.

By Wilfred Pilo

KUCHING, Dec 13: The Sarawak government has approved special financial assistance of more than RM4.67 million for the year 2020 to treat eligible kidney patients in the state.

Minister of Welfare and Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Children’s Development Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah said that they had projected the overall cost to treat eligible kidney patients over the next five years (from 2020 to 2025) to be more than RM30.79 million.

“This projected cost includes the buying, commissioning, distribution of new machines, to pay the salary of the appointed contract staff by the health department and to pay for the minimal expenses in helping to treat eligible kidney patients,” she said at the press conference held at her ministry today.

“The fund by the government will ease the burden of those kidney patients who cannot afford it and for them to seek better treatment as they are very costly,” she added.

Fatimah also revealed that with the fund, the government will expect to buy, in stages, 30 new dialysis machines over the next five years (averaging six machines a year); will provide outstation kidney patients RM50 in travelling allowances per dialysis session; and those who undergo kidney transplants in Kuala Lumpur Hospital will be given RM5,000 for accommodations and travelling expenses.

She said based on their studies at a recent workshop, the monthly cost of one kidney patient receiving treatment in the state was RM3,460 and they intended to target 100 eligible kidney patients every year. They also wanted to see the yearly figure of the number of kidney patients they give assistance to increase by 20 per cent.

Fatimah added that those eligible for government special funding were kidney patients who were Sarawakian  or have permanent residency status as denoted by “K” on their identity cards.

“They must be in the B40 or M40 group with capital incomes of only RM1,020 or according to current guidelines on the poverty level. They must not have received a subsidy from the government, private sectors and non-governmental organisations. Those who received assistance and still need subsistence for travelling will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.”

She said that those not eligible for this special assistance were kidney patients who were civil servants, government pensioners and those who contributed to Social Security Organisation (SOCSO).

Earlier, Sarawak General Hospital senior consultant nephrologist Dr Clare Tan said that the highest number of kidney failure in the country and the state were mainly caused by diabetes and hypertension.

“The way to reduce these numbers are for people to change their social lifestyles and stay healthy,” she said.

The total number of kidney patients in Sarawak in 2018 is 3,317. —DayakDaily