Karunya Homes — a lodging and relaxation facility for companions of patients — will soon be constructed on the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College campus, utilising funds of the Karunya Benevolent Fund (KBF).

Such facilities will be opened at all five Government Medical College hospitals in stages as soon as land for the same was identified, said Minister for Finance K.M. Mani while inaugurating the Karunya Dialysis Centre at the MCH here on Thursday.

Minister for Health V.S. Sivakumar gave an assurance that 25 cents of land would be identified for the Karunya Home on the Thiruvananthapuram MCH campus.

Mr. Mani said the Karunya Benevolent Fund was the most humane face of the United Democratic Front (UDF) government, which had already declared that Health would be its priority sector. The KBF had already provided free medical treatment to nearly 15,000 patients at nearly Rs. 150 crore in the past one year, he said.

Utilising funds from KBF, the government planned to open dialysis centres with 10 machines each at all five Government Medical Hospitals, 27 district and taluk hospitals, and two private hospitals in every taluk. A sum of Rs. 46 crore would be allocated from the KBF for the project.

The project was conceived as innumerable patients with chronic or end-stage renal diseases, who are on twice-a-week maintenance dialysis, were finding it difficult to get the dialysis done owing to the huge waiting list for dialysis at government hospitals and infrastructural deficiencies. Patients who register their names at the Karunya Dialysis Centre will be offered dialysis free of cost for the first two years, after which a nominal fee will be charged.

The Health Minister said the supply of free generic drugs would be extended to all primary health centres from August 15. He said the budget for the current financial year had earmarked several projects for the health sector, including a liver transplantation unit at the Thiruvananthapuram MCH and Burns units in all Government MCHs. Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor handed over the treatment aid from KBF for 22 registered patients to the Medical College Superintendent D. Mohandas.