PESHAWAR: Lack of funds has been affecting the treatment of patients, who visit the Institute of Kidney Diseases for free dialysis and getting medicines after renal transplants, according to sources.

Health Minister Taimur Khan Jhagra, however, denied shortage of funds, saying IKD was set to resume renal transplants in June of the current year after a pause of two years due to huge funds pledged by government for equipment, medicines and human resources.

“We have held meeting with the IKD administration a day before and agreed to devise a mechanism for free dialysis and medicines programme as it is open to misuse in the current shape. Therefore, we are going to streamline it through a proposal to be sent by the IKD administration soon,” he said.

The minister said that health department was providing additional resources to IKD that was part of Hayatabad Medical Complex, an autonomous institution, besides its own budget and despite that resumption of kidney transplants for all population was a milestone achievement.

Health minister denies shortage of funds, says IKD set to resume renal transplants in June

Officials said that provincial government was providing universal health insurance to all 7.4 million families of the province, covering most diseases including renal transplant under Social Health Insurance Protection Initiative programme. They said that re-launching of transplants would benefit many patients, who were already on waiting list. They added that they appreciated government’s attention towards the premier institute, which pioneered transplant in the province.

They said that the people, who underwent renal transplants in the past and required subsequent medication, were at the receiving end due to non-availability of medicines to be provided to them free of cost. They said that life-saving drugs for kidney transplant patients were expensive and not affordable for most of the people.

The patients needing dialysis on monthly, fortnightly or weekly basis continue to suffer for want of drugs. Missing these tablets can cost a patient his life because people have to continue treatment for years after undergoing renal transplantation.

According to sources and documents available with this correspondent, IKD has been providing free medicines to patients since launching renal transplants. The previous governments were providing these tablets free of cost to the patients, who received the drugs on monthly basis.

“However, the programme of free medicine has been suspended several times during the past two years due to insufficient funds released for the purpose by finance department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” said sources.

They said that in response to many letters for provision of funds, Rs30 million was released in December last year by the government. They added that institute had requested Rs122 million.

Sources said that the process of providing free medicines to kidney transplant patients was resumed on February 4, 2022 that lasted for two months. However, the funds were depleted again by the government but since April 11, the patients weren’t getting free drugs at IKD, they said.

Officials at the institute said that they were trying their best to ensure provision of medicines to patients because they depended on the drugs for survival. “So far, more than 800 residents of the province have been provided with free of charge medicines for renal transplants and dialysis,” they added.

Now, the funds have exhausted and the patients requiring medicines for post-renal transplants of dialysis are asked to purchase it from market. Many patients at IKD told this scribe that they were not able to buy medicines from the market due to poverty.

Mohammad Javed, 29, said that he underwent renal transplant two years ago at IKD but shortage of drugs had become a severe issue for his family. “My father is a taxi driver and we are taking loans to purchase drugs. The government should include free medication of renal transplant patients in Sehat Card Plus so IKD could provide it to people freely,” he added.

Ahmed Ali from Khyber tribal district said that he had been bringing his elder brother for free dialysis to IKD once in a month but the last two months were very heavy because provision of free medicine was stopped and they were not in a position to purchase it.

“I, therefore, request the government to release funds for the patients at the earliest because poor or jobless people are unable to pay for their treatment,” he said.

A patient from Peshawar city said that he spent Rs20, 000 every month to undergo two dialysis session 15 days apart for which he was supported by relatives.

Health Secretary Mohammad Tahir Orakzai told Dawn that they held meeting IKD high-ups yesterday and discussed the issue in details. The meeting held with finance minister in the chair decided that all out support would be provided to kidney transplant and dialysis patients, he said.

Published in Dawn, April 20th, 2022

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