Editorial: Promoting renal health

LIFELINES. The Cebu City Government’s plan to open two dialysis centers in August improves citizens’ access to affordable, safe dialysis treatments. Since dialysis cannot cure kidney diseases, City Hall should partner with stakeholders to push for renal health education to manage the epidemic of kidney diseases, the sixth leading cause of Filipino deaths. (File photo)

ACCESS to affordable hemodialysis promises to be within the reach of residents when the Cebu City Government operates two dialysis centers by Aug. 20, 2020.

Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) administrator Yvonne Cania said that no fees may be collected from Cebu City residents at the dialysis center at the Cebu City Quarantine Center (CCQC) managed by the CCMC solely for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) patients with kidney diseases, as well as the other dialysis center at the SM Seaside City Cebu, reported Philip A. Cerojano and Kevin A. Lagunda in SunStar Cebu on Aug. 6.

Each center will have five dialysis machines each from the Department of Health (DOH).

Despite the costs, dialysis cannot cure kidney diseases. The Cebu City Government should work with stakeholders to educate the public about renal health, a more sustainable long-term approach.

By operating the dialysis centers, the Cebu City Government helps to minimize the risk of exposure to Covid-19 cases in hospitals, as well as provides an essential but expensive medical procedure that many indigent persons with kidney diseases find difficult to afford or maintain.

In 2013, the sixth leading cause of death among Filipinos were kidney diseases, specially End Stage Renal Disease, which afflict one Filipino every hour or “about 120 Filipinos per million population per year,” according to the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI).

Dialysis and kidney transplant are two options to prolong the life of those with diseased kidneys, with the former being more affordable.

The 2017 Philippine Renal Disease Registry annual report recorded 21,535 Filipinos undergoing dialysis due to kidney failure in 2016, a drastic increase from the 9,716 dialysis cases monitored in 2016.

Better health education by stakeholders should ideally make more Filipinos more careful in safeguarding their bodies and preventing through diet, exercise and proper lifestyle the diabetes mellitus and hypertension that have emerged as the leading causes of chronic renal failure.

The Cebu City Government with partner stakeholders should more aggressively pursue health communication campaigns to educate citizens about preventing or managing diabetes and hypertension.

The NKTI advocates for educating the public on controlling the “epidemic of renal failure” through doable, affordable measures, such as “strict blood pressure and glycemic control” and the adoption of healthy lifestyles.

With renal diseases affecting younger patients, health education should be specially aimed at children since eating and exercise habits are formed and solidified at home, in schools and with peers.

Educating the public about kidney health includes making patients aware of the physical, financial and other implications of dialysis. When medical treatments and lifestyle changes fail to arrest the deterioration of kidneys, patients cannot wean themselves from dialysis; thus, maintenance dialysis is needed to regularly remove the wastes from the blood, a function ailing kidneys can no longer perform.

Due to the high cost of a dialysis session, many patients choose when to seek dialysis, instead of following the medically prescribed twice- or thrice-a-week regimen. This leads to premature deaths.

In 2015, the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. expanded its coverage of dialysis from 45 to 90 sessions a year. The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, foundations and other entities provide medical assistance to subsidize the costs of dialysis, surgery for insertion of catheters, grafts or fistulas, replacement of dialyzers and other expenses required to have safe, infection-free maintenance dialysis.

Since the safety and prolongation of life of dialysis patients rest also on their caregivers and family members, the Cebu City Government should include the education of this support group as part of their outreach program at the dialysis centers that will be opened this August.


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