India faces acute shortage of dialysis units

There are only 1,470 hemodialysis units in the whole country at present.

New Delhi: India gets 1.5 lakh (150,000) patients with kidney failures every year and a majority of them die within five years due to the acute shortage of dialysis units in the country, an expert said Friday.
There are only 1,470 hemodialysis units in the whole country, whereas 40,000 of them are immediately required, said D.S.Rana, secretary, Indian Society of Hemodialysis.

Less than 10 percent of the total patients requiring dialysis are able to avail the facility, while only half of them are able to afford it on long term basis, due to cost, time and logistical factors, he said, delivering the welcome address at the fourth congress of the Society here, according to a press release.

Currently, about eight lakh patients with terminal renal disease in India require dialysis and transplantations. But only 4,000 patients are getting kidney transplantations and an equal number are on maintenance hemodialysis.

Unfortunately, not a single dialysis unit is made in India and they have to be imported from Swedan and Germany, Rana said. About 90 percent of these facilities are in the private sector for which patients, whether rich or poor, have to pay.

Hemodialysis treatment is very expensive. A patient normally receives dialysis at least thrice a week, and monthly expenses amount to Rs.30, 000.

The medicines are also equally costly and a majority of the patients are not able to afford this treatment.

Adding to the problem, health insurance policies do not cover the cost of dialysis owing to the high cost, he said.

Rana also noted the acute shortage of the trained medical professionals in India. At present, there are only 1,000 nephrologists while 20,000 are required. There is also acute shortage of dialysis technologists and nurses.

The situation is expected to get worse, he said.

The International Diabetes Foundation has reported approximately 54 million diabetic patients in India in 2010, and the number is likely to touch 70 million by the year 2025. Every third patient suffering from diabetes mellitus develops chronic kidney disease.

Majority of these patients will die of coronary artery disease or a stroke and only a minority reaches the stages of end stage renal failure.

Rana urged the NGOs and the corporate sector to set up standalone dialysis facilities in small towns, affiliated with reputed hospitals in metros, to serve the needs of poor patients.


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