KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 18 — The Ministry of Health (MOH) does not have enough dialysis centres to treat patients with the blood filtering machine, the Dewan Negara heard today.
Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye added that his ministry is plagued with a lack of manpower, which has made the problem worse.
Responding to a question by Senator Paul Igai, Dr Lee said there are more than 42,000 patients undergoing hemodialysis in the country, of which 11,588 undergo dialysis at MOH facilities.
“Of this 11,588, 8,900 are hemodialysis (patients), 2,688 are CAPD or peritoneal dialysis (patients), and there are still 2,958 patients on the waiting list.
“So, it is clear that facility-wise, it is not enough.
“We are planning to to add (the number of dialysis centres) if there are (enough) resources (and) staff,” the Gopeng MP added.
“But we also encourage that, if possible, patients try to change to peritoneal dialysis — which doesn’t need (a) machine — or… to (consider) kidney transplantation.”
The ideal ratio for staff to hemodialysis patients is 1:4, but at most MOH’s hemodialysis centres, the ratio is between 1:6 and 1:7, which MOH attributes to human resource constraints at most MOH facilities.
MOH today, in its written parliamentary reply to Senator Igai, said the ministry is in the process of requesting for more human resources from the Public Service Department to ensure a smooth delivery of services — including dialysis — at all MOH facilities.
In Malaysia, the government subsidises hemodialysis treatment to locals who are poor and unable to foot the cost of the treatment. Treatment is done at NGO-run hemodialysis centres that are recognised by MOH.
In 2017, 2,415 patients at 122 NGO-run hemodialysis centres received aid through a government subsidy of RM23.961 million, while in 2018, 2,459 patients in the same number of NGO-run hemodialysis centres received RM33.349 million in subsidies.
As of November 2019, meanwhile, a total of 3,315 patients in 125 NGO-run hemodialysis centres received RM33.431 million in subsidy aid, an increase of 37.27 per cent from 2017.
The government’s financial burden, on the other hand, has also increased because of this, MOH said, noting that the hemodialysis treatment subsidy per patient has been increased to RM100 from RM50 beginning 2018.
Still, patients only need to pay RM10 from the total cost of RM110, which includes the RM18.50 cost of an epoetin injection.
Patients must be currently undergoing treatment at such a centre to be eligible for subsidised treatment, as well as fulfil the applicant criteria that have been set by the dialysis centre in question, MOH said, following which interviews will be carried out.
The applications will then be discussed among MOH’s management, taking into account as well the applicant’s socio-economic background, before deciding on approving or rejecting an application.
NGO-run hemodialysis centres currently not on this programme, on the other hand, can also apply to be listed under the subsidised dialysis scheme by MOH, the ministry added.