The National Federation Party says the Fiji First Government has miserably failed to fulfil its promise of providing funding for subsidised kidney dialysis to patients from low income families in three Divisions as announced in its budget last year.
The Party says kidney patients from families with combined annual income of less than $20,000 in the Western, Central Divisions and Eastern Divisions are being denied subsidised dialysis, with the only exception being the Northern Division.
NFP Leader Professor Biman Prasad also claims that the Party has also established that the sole nephrologist in the country Dr Amreesh Krishnan has resigned his position as a Consultant and the Head of the Nephrology Department at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital apparently because of frustrating delays in the construction of the kidney specialist centre in Tamavua.
“Kidney patients from families with a combined income of less than $20,000 should have been eligible to have dialysis three times a week at a subsidised cost of $75 per session because Government had announced last year they would now reduce the cost of dialysis from as high as $250 per session”.
“Instead Government would provide dialysis at a cost of $150 at its hospitals and the new kidney centre but would subsidise treatment for patients from families with combined annual income of less than $20,000 per annum”.
“We have established that dialysis is being done at a cost of $150 per session at Labasa Hospital only and patients in the North from families with incomes of less than $20,000 are being provided subsidised dialysis at a cost of $75 per session”.
“This means that patients from poor families in the Western, Central and Eastern Divisions are paying between $200 and $250 per session for dialysis to stay alive. This is unacceptable”.
“Earlier this year, the Health Minister told Parliament in response to a query from NFP Parliamentarian Lenora Qereqeretabua that a dialysis centre would open soon at Nadera. But this hasn’t happened”.
“Similarly, Government is silent on how it intends to provide subsidised dialysis to patients in the Western and Eastern Divisions”.
“Likewise, there is no word on why the completion of construction and equipping of the kidney centre at Tamavua is long overdue”.
“We are being inundated with pleas of help from relatives of patients with low incomes who go around trying to raise funds for their expensive treatment. We have ben reliably told that health professionals forced to use their salaries to fund treatment for emergency cases”.
“All government does is to issue permits for fundraising for dialysis instead of providing facilities for subsidised dialysis”.
“This leads us to seriously question whether government’s announcement in its budget last year was an election gimmick following NFP’s announcement in July 2017 of providing free dialysis to all patients from families with less than $30,000 annual income”.
“We made this pledge following government’s repeated rejection of our motions to get it to increase budgetary allocation for dialysis from a meagre $300,000 to at least $3million”.
“But this government has left kidney patients to fend for themselves and in most cases forego the normal requirement of three sessions a week and have only one dialysis treatment due to exorbitant costs”.
“And now we see the sole qualified nephrologist quitting the public healthcare and medical sector.”
“All this is a result of yet another broken promise by his patchwork Fiji First government”.