Nearly 12 per cent of India’s population is estimated to be suffering from some form of undetected kidney disease, many of which can lead to total kidney failures. Around 2.5 lakh persons die annually due to kidney failures, making it the third largest killer disease after malignancy and heart disease.

Only 9 per cent of these patients can afford the treatment or obtain kidney transplant, the only permanent cure. As many belong to weaker socio-economic sections, they are unable to undergo dialysis, which costs around Rs. 1,500 in private centres and has to be done periodically.

With the objective of helping poor patients, Tamil Nadu Kidney Research (TANKER) Foundation on Wednesday launched a dialysis unit which will offer subsidised treatment in Coimbatore. Those covered under CM’s Health Insurance Scheme will receive free treatment. The unit is located at RVS Hospital at Sulur near here.

According to Georgi Abraham, founder trustee of TANKER Foundation, the centre will also carry out awareness campaign about kidney diseases and prevention measures.

Latha A. Kumaraswami, the foundation’s managing trustee, says the unit will charge Rs. 375 per dialysis for patients from families with monthly income below Rs. 15,000. Families with Below Poverty Line ration cards can also avail themselves of this facility. Actor Suriya, the Foundation’s goodwill ambassador, inaugurated the unit. It has three dialysis machines that can treat 15 persons a day. He also donated Rs. 6 lakh for purchasing an additional machine.The Foundation was already running two units at Chennai besides one each at Puducherry and Madurai. It was also going to open units at Salem and Tiruchi shortly. Addressing the inaugural function, he told the large gathering of students that kidney disease was a silent killer having little or no symptoms. All those above 30 years should undergo frequent health checkups. K. Senthil Ganesh, managing trustee, RVS Educational Trust, S.V. Venkatesan, TANKER Foundation trustee, spoke.

Those wishing to make contributions could send it to: TANKER Foundation, 17, Wheatcrofts Road, Nungambakkam, Chennai — 600 034, telephone: (044) 4309 0998/2827 3407, e-mail: Cheques must be in the name of TANKER Foundation.