Govt-run free dialysis centres give patients a ‘lifeline’ in Kashmir

Bramullah Updated: Sep 17, 2018

Five years down the lane when Ashiq Ahmad, a resident of north Kashmir’s Sopore town in Baramulla district, was running a flourishing cloth business when he was diagnosed with a chronic kidney disease (CKD).

With this, Ahmad’s life changed for the worse. He would travel 80 kilometre twice or thrice a week to Soura in Srinagar for the dialysis sessions. To meet the expenses of his treatment, he was forced to sell his business and orchards.

Just when he was on the verge of penury and about to discontinue his treatment, Ahmad got a ray of hope— a state of art dialysis centre— providing services on nominal cost near his home.

The Jammu and Kashmir government has been running three such centres at Anantnag district hospital in south Kashmir, Baramulla district hospital in north Kashmir and the third one in the heart of the city at Rainawari in Srinagar.

A total of six such centres have been established across the state, where dialysis is conducted in two shifts.

Speaking to Hindustan Times, director general (DG) of health services Kashmir, Saleem-ur-Rehman, said, “We will be establishing four more centres within next three to four months as the staff is being trained.”

As many as 1,000 patients, who are administered dialysis weekly, have been benefitted from these three centres.

“The patients below poverty line (BPL) are not charged a single penny, while others have to pay less than ?950 for single sitting as cost of the medicine.”

“I used to spend more than ?10,000 on two or three sessions every week. I would pray for my death owing to the huge expenses, but now, I feel relaxed, even my family is happy. This centre is not only close to our house, its expenses are also bearable,” said Ahmad while two technicians were administering him medicines.

The authorities have now started establishing similar centres at district hospitals: a first of its type in the health sector in Valley.

Close to Ashiq’s bed, Ghulam Ahmad Lone, a patient from Nadihal village, five kilometers from Baramulla town, said, “For me it is free. I have six children and a big family to feed. For me this centre is a lifeline.”

Senior consultant and in-charge of the unit Dr Tauseef said, “We follow the protocol of international standards and it is mostly beneficial to poor patients. Here, we get patients from far off places of north Kashmir.”

Medical superintendent of Baramulla district hospital, Dr Masood, said currently, they have six machines and need more due to increase in patients’ footfall. “In the past two-three months, we have conducted over 500 sessions benefitting more than 70 patients. This is turning to be a big facility in the rural Kashmir,” he said.

The project is part of Prime Minister’s National Dialysis Programme which was initiated in 2016, however, in J&K, it started this year.

The expenses are borne by the hospital administration and the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). So far at Anantnag district hospital, over 1,100 sessions have been held. Medical superintendent Maajid Mehrab said, “We have six machines out of which one has been kept for patients with hepatitis/HIV.”

Besides, television sets have also been installed in the units to make the patients comfortable. ( HT )