Karnataka

Dialysis patients at government centres hit hard due to lack of medicines

A dialysis centre in a Bengaluru hospital.

A dialysis centre in a Bengaluru hospital. | Photo Credit: FILE PHOTO

Nityananda Sagar, a 57-year-old resident of Linganapura in Chamarajanagar taluk, who gets dialysis done at the State-run centre in T. Narasipura Government Hospital, had a harrowing time on Tuesday. With his last dialysis done on Friday, he badly needed the scheduled dialysis in the first slot at 6 a.m. on Tuesday. However, on arrival he was asked to buy certain essential dialysis medicines from outside as the centre did not have stocks. With no medical store open at that hour, he developed breathing difficulty due to fluid accumulation.

“No medical store is open at 6 a.m. Somehow, the staff at the dialysis centre managed with nebulisation till 7.30 a.m. by the time the medical store opened. As I had only ₹50 with me, I bought the medicine on credit and underwent the dialysis,” the patient said.

This is not a lone case. Several patients that The Hindu spoke to at various government-run centres in the State said that they were not receiving quality dialysis. “We are asked to buy heparin (used to prevent blood from clotting in the dialysis lines) and saline solution for the dialyser (the  agent that is used to cleanse the blood of the patient) as the centres do not have adequate stocks. We are poor patients who barely manage with the bus fare to reach the centres. How can we afford medicines?,” asked Shivananjaiah, a 65-year-old  patient at the Ramanagaram district hospital centre.

Sujatha, a physically challenged 39-year-old patient at the Hosadurga Taluk Hospital dialysis centre, also had a similar tale to tell. “We are also being asked to buy the expensive Erythropoietin and iron-sucrose injections,” she said.

Over 4,000 renal patients have been undergoing dialysis in 169 government-run centres across the State since March 2017 when the dialysis scheme was awarded to BRS Health & Research Institute to manage. In July 2021, when this service provider intimated the State Government that it would no longer be able to continue with the services, the scheme was managed by the Health Department under National Health Mission (NHM) from August 2021 till January 10, 2022.  Subsequently, the contract of the scheme was then awarded to Kolkata-based ESKAG Sanjeevini Pvt. Ltd. Although the company’s contract ended in March, the State is yet to float new tenders.

Helpless

Staff at the dialysis centres said they were helpless as the service provider (ESKAG Sanjeevini) has not been providing adequate stocks of the essential medicines and consumables.

“We need at least two litres of saline solution for the dialysis of each person as we also need to clean the dialyser and bloodline for reuse. But the service provider has given us directions to use just one litre for every patient. If the cleaning is not done properly, it can cause infections. Moreover, they want us to reuse the (single-use) bloodline ten times,” said a staff member managing a centre in Mysuru district.

“The service provider has also told us to administer the injections — Erythropoietin and iron-sucrose — only to those whose haemoglobin level falls below 8 grams per deciliter (g/dl). As all dialysis patients need these injections, they question us if we give it only to some. We have to face the wrath of patients for no fault of ours,” said another staffer from a centre in Yadgir. 

Show-cause notice

Mysuru District Health Officer (DHO) Prasad K.H. said Tuesday’s incident at T. Narasipura had come to his notice. “We will issue a show-cause notice to the service provider,” he said.

State Health Commissioner Randeep D. said penalty will be slapped on the service provider if the consumables and medicines are not provided in adequate quantity. “They are supposed to provide all consumables and medicines. Single-use consumables cannot be  reused. We will issue a show-cause notice to the service provider and ensure compliance in future,” he said.

On the new tenders, the Commissioner said the new request for Proposal (RFP) is ready. “We are awaiting the government’s nod to float tenders for running the scheme,” he added.


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Printable version | Aug 20, 2022 10:28:20 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/dialysis-patients-at-government-centres-hit-hard-due-to-lack-of-medicines/article65690336.ece