Free kidney dialysis service to begin in 18 hospitals in Assam

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Free dialysis service to begin in 18 hospitals in Assam

Saumya Mishra | June 15, 2019 14:17 hrs

The service will be introduced from this month in a total of eight district hospitals as part of the first phase   
  
In a relief to kidney patients, the Assam government is set to start free dialysis facility in as many as 18 government hospitals, announced state health & family welfare minister Himanta Biswa Sarma recently. 
   
The service is being introduced as part of the Pradhan Mantri National Dialysis Programme under the National Health Mission. The Assam government signed an agreement with Apollo Hospitals, Chennai on February 5 under the public-private partnership mode to implement this programme for a period of five years.
  
In the first phase, the free service will be started in eight hospitals including SMK Civil Hospital in Nalbari, Mangaldoi Civil Hospital in Darrang district, Tezpur Medical College & Hospital and Kanaklata Civil Hospital in Sonitpur district, LGB Civil Hospital in Tinsukia, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed Medical College in Barpeta, Morigaon Civil Hospital, and Bongaigaon District Hospital.
 
The minister said that the facility will be introduced in all eight government hospitals by June 20. 
     
Following this, the scheme will be extended to seven hospitals in the second phase and three hospitals in the third and final phase.  
 
Apollo Hospitals will be paid Rs 1,296 for each dialysis session in the first year by the government and the rate will increase by 8 per cent after each year till the completion of the contract. 

In the second phase, free dialysis service will be extended to Sivasagar Civil Hospital, BP Civil Nagaon, North Lakhimpur Civil Hospital, and civil hospitals of Dhemaji, Diphu, Dhubri and Goalpara by the second week of July.    

Additionally, Jorhat Medical College, Karimganj and Golaghat civil hospitals will be covered in the last phase, added Sarma.  
 
The health minister further mentioned that the state has seen a rise in patients suffering kidney-related ailments. He added that Assam government will seek the help of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to conduct a survey in the state to find out if the use of harmful fertilizers and pesticides is causing the rise of such diseases in the state.
 
Further, a total of 105 Hemo-Dialysis machines for Pradhan Mantri National Dialysis Programme have been allocated for all 18 centres in Assam. The minister added that till now, 45 machines have been installed across eight hospitals for the first phase.   

Blurb: “The scheme will be extended to seven hospitals in the second phase and three hospitals in the third and last phase.”


Residents suggest improving government health facilities 

While the state government’s move has drawn appreciation from Guwahatians, many of them have also expressed their concern over the poor quality of health services offered at government facilities.  
       
Keshav Todi, a Guwahati resident told G Plus, “People fly to Bangalore, Chennai, Coimbatore Delhi and Mumbai because of the inefficient service in the sector. Being a sufferer of sub-standard quality treatment in Assam, I would just request the authorities to improve the quality of the technicians and related doctors.”

Further, another resident, Chandana Sharma, pointed out the problematic attitude of doctors and hospital authorities towards patients in government-run hospitals.
    
“Doctors and staff should be trained to be polite and patient. Government schemes are good and beneficial for public but people are treated so badly that availing these benefits under the scheme becomes more painful due to the attitude and behaviour of some of the doctors,” she said. 

According to a G Plus survey conducted last year, at least 84% Guwahati residents do not have faith in government hospitals and prefer going to private hospitals or clinics for treatment.

According to the results of the survey, 73.3% respondents said they preferred to get themselves or their family members treated at private hospitals. Further, 11% of the population said they usually favour going out of the state for medical treatment.

On the other hand, merely 15.7% participants said they preferred to go to government hospitals.

Experts feel that at a time when the state government is laying a lot of emphasis on improving the overall medical facilities and infrastructure in Assam, it still has a long way to go to gain the trust of a majority of the population in public healthcare.
         
The government hospitals in the city remain overburdened with an ever increasing number of patients going to them for treatment not only from Kamrup (Metro) but from all over the state. 

To add to this, staff shortage and lack of adequate infrastructure in several government-run hospitals prove to be major impediments in providing quality care to patients. These factors often lead people to opt for moving out of the state for treatment if they can afford it, say experts.  
 
A resident of Chandmari, Utpal Das, said that the government should have a proper mechanism to check that the really needy patients receive the benefits of the scheme.

Ashmita Choudhury, a student from Guwahati termed the initiative as revolutionary and said that if implemented well, it would really be beneficial for the needy in the state.

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