Despite equipment and funding, Kupwara dialysis centre nowhere in sight

Kidney disease patients in district Kupwara are being deprived of subsidized dialysis facility with the Health department failing to set up dialysis centre in the district despite available funds and equipment.

While three of the four dialysis centers in Kashmir under Prime Minister’s National Dialysis Programme (PMNDP) have started running at Baramulla, Anantnag and Pulwama, the most far-flung area of Kashmir division, fraught with difficulties in access to healthcare, is lagging grossly behind. This dialysis center under PMNDP is yet to be set up although funds for the scheme were released by GoI in 2016-17, an official said.

“This is nothing but sheer official apathy. We have funds and equipment, but the district health administration is not able to reprieve kidney disease patients with this facility here,” the official said.

A source in health department said that this dialysis center was headed for further delay as no space had been created for it yet. “In the newly constructed hospital building, which will be handed over to health department soon, no provision has been kept for dialysis center,” he said. The source added that despite repeated directions from the directorate of health services last year, the chief medical officer (CMO) Kupwara did not comply.

The source said that the dialysis center was announced for Kupwara in 2016, but three years on, the physical infrastructure is pending. “We do not even have a space for it, so there is no question of creating reverse osmosis plant and other necessary infrastructure for the center,” he said.

The lack of dialysis center in district headquarter of Kupwara, a doctor said, was putting kidney disease patients through “untold misery”. “Patients are forced to travel to Sopore or Srinagar and the cost of travel adds to the already expensive dialysis regimen,” he said. He added that dialysis in private sector cost patients between Rs 20000 to Rs 40000 a month and a Govt operated dialysis center in vicinity would have brought this cost “drastically down”.

“Although not every patient with kidney disease can be incorporated in these centers but nevertheless, hundreds are getting reprieve in Anantnag, Baramulla and Pulwama,” he said.

J&K has been donated 45 dialysis machines by Fairfax Charitable Foundation Trust. However, due to delayed response to the central provision and failure to institute the dialysis centers in public-private partnership mode, as is being done in most states of India, these centers are being run solely on the manpower scooped out of the existing one, an official said.

Director health services Kashmir, Dr Kunzes Domla said that Kupwara dialysis center was delayed “mainly due to space issues”. She said that once the new hospital building was ready to use, work on the center would be started. Asked if there was a provision of space for the center in the new building, she said, “There must be.”

CMO Kupwara, Dr Prehlad Singh did not reply to repeated calls and text messages from Greater Kashmir.