STRESSING the sanctity and value of life, Baguio Mayor Mauricio Domogan and the City Council last week urged PhilHealth, the national government medical support system, to implement its plan to double the hemodialysis treatment coverage for patients suffering from kidney failure, from 45 to 90 sessions per year.

Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) President Alexander Padilla confirmed recently that the proposal is still being studied.

He noted the observation of Domogan the number of patients who are undergoing twice to three-times-a-week dialysis treatment for life is on the rise.

Padilla and the mayor met during the recent opening of PhilHealth's new Baguio office along Leonard Wood Rd., just before the first gate of the Teachers Camp coming from the city proper.

The mayor followed up the request with a letter to Padilla he signed last Sunday, when he spoke at the induction of officers of the over 200-strong Baguio General Hospital Medical Center Dialysis Patients and Partners Association at the multi-purpose center of City Hall.

"As pointed out in our dialogue during the inauguration of the new Philhealth Office here in Baguio last week, the number of hemodialysis patients is increasing, giving rise also to the number of families who have to continuously cope with the stress -- financial and otherwise," the mayor wrote Padilla.

At the installation rites, members of the BGHMCDPPA headed by Fr. Richard Justo also adopted a similar resolution on behalf of the thousands of kidney patients all over the country who have to spend P30,000 to P50,000 a month for their dialysis treatment and maintenance medications.

Last Monday afternoon, the City Council likewise unanimously adopted a resolution asking Philhealth to adopt its plan to double the treatment coverage of hemodialysis patients from 45 to 90 a year.

"Kidney failure is one of the most debilitating of illnesses – financially, emotionally and otherwise – for patients who have to maintain twice or thrice-a-week hemodialysis treatment for life, with dire consequences should they skip a session or two," the City Council resolution noted.

"Implementation of such plan (to double the hemodialysis treatment coverage for PhilHealth members) would come as pure relief not only to dialysis patients but to their families who have to continuously scrounge for funds to maintain and sustain the twice- or thrice-a-week treatment required of those afflicted with the ailment," the city council added.

The resolution jointly authored by city councilors Joel Alangsab, Fred Bagbagen and Peter Fianza pointed out that “the present 45 dialysis treatments being shouldered by the PhilHealth for each member-patient each year miserably falls short of the 156 sessions needed per year for those needing thrice-a-week hemodialysis or 104 sessiosn per year for those needing twice-a-week treatment”.

The City Council also said the treatment coverage is usually reduced substantially each time a patient is confined or hospitalized for complications as the expenses for which are also partially charged to the patient’s annual PhilHealth coverage.

The additional support being given by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to hemodialysis patients is hardly enough to cover the shortfall, the council said.

Fianza earlier filed a resolution asking the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office to open a district office here to serve people in the Cordillera needing financial aid to support their medical needs such as hemodialysis. He also asked that similar offices be opened in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, which, like the Cordillera, had no regional PCSO office.

Acting on the resolution and a similar letter-request from mayor Domogan, the PCSO opened two district offices for the Cordillera, specifically in Baguio and in Bontoc, Mt. Province.

The opening of the extension offices came as a relief, as patients needing fund support no longer have to line up at the PCSO main office in Quezon City or queue with their counterparts from Ilocos Region in the regional office in Urdaneta, Pangasinan.