The district panchayat is all set to launch a mobile dialysis unit for patients who cannot afford hospital care. The project, announced in the district panchayat budget for this fiscal, will be implemented in association with the Sri Sathya Sai Orphanage Trust, an NGO based in Thiruvananthapuram.

The district panchayat has set apart Rs.50 lakh for the scheme. The project is expected to be launched within a month after getting final approval from the State-Level Technical Advisory Group and District Planning Committee.

‘‘The project is intended to benefit economically backward patients suffering from renal failure. Because of the non-availability of dialysis treatment in government hospitals in panchayat areas, most of the people are forced to depend on private hospitals.

In the case of poor patients, they are unable to pay for their treatment. The idea of this mobile unit is to make dialysis treatment more accessible to poor people from panchayat areas,'' said district panchayat vice-president Rufus Daniel.

He said the panchayat was planning to give free dialysis treatment to below poverty line (BPL) category patients through the mobile unit.

Thiruvananthapuram General Hospital RMO and Nephrologist S.S. Joy, who is associating with the project, said that apart from facilitating maintenance dialysis for patients from panchayats, the mobile unit would also be a step towards bringing dialysis treatment facility to rural areas.

‘‘The mobile unit will take different routes every day to conduct dialysis treatment camps in different panchayats on a periodic basis. Patients can register and take part in these camps on pre-announced dates for maintenance dialysis.

Initially, the unit will not function independently but will be attached to a hospital, like a primary health centre or a taluk hospital,'' Dr Joy said.

Secretary V.S. Santhosh Kumar said the district panchayat would bear the capital investment for buying the vehicle and dialysis machines, while the NGO would meet the recurring expenses for running the unit. The unit would include the services of a doctor, a dialysis technician, and a lab technician.

‘‘Apart from the main dialysis machine, we would also have a stand-by machine and a reverse osmosis plant in the mobile unit,'' he said.

Mr. Daniel said the district panchayat would launch a slew of other projects in health care sector.