The centrally sponsored national dialysis program (NDP) that promises provision of free dialysis for kidney disease patients at district level is yet to take off in J&K, with health authorities citing shortage of trained manpower as the reason for delay. Interim arrangements are being made to address the shortage.

Directorate of health services Kashmir (DHSK) has started training of its doctors and paramedical staff in dialysis technology at SMHS Hospital and SKIMS Soura in a bid to address the shortage of trained manpower for the district level free dialysis centers, officials in health and medical education department said. The training has been arranged to to make two dialysis centers in Kashmir functional “at the earliest”.

“In two months, free dialysis will be available at district hospital Anantnag and JLNM Hospital Srinagar. Our staff is getting trained in phased manner,” director health services Dr Saleem ur Rehman said. He added that remaining centers of the Kashmir province will also be made operational “within four months”.

J&K has suffered about two years delay in setting up the Rs 200 lakh funded NDP that could have eased the financial burden on thousands of kidney disease patients in the state. The program that promises provision of free dialysis services to the below poverty line category patients and subsidised dialysis to others was announced in 2016 for 10 identified district hospitals of J&K. In absence of the facility, patients have no option but to pay Rs 2500 to Rs 4000 in private sector.

Although, National Health Mission (NHM) had floated tenders for operationalising these centers in June 2017, none of the 10 announced centers of J&K has started functioning. Mission director NHM, Dr Mohan Singh said that there was “poor response” to the tenders. Envisaged to operationalise on Public Private Partnership (PPP) Mode, these centers, Dr Singh said, would now be run with the staff of DHSK.

A source in health and medical education department said that the issues in making the centers operational had cropped up due to the initial delay in bringing the scheme to J&K. “When the scheme was announced by union health ministry, we did not implement it in J&K. As a result we lost the chance to avail the complete PPP mode as the purchase of equipment, later, was not included in the proposal decreasing the response of private players,” he said.

Since no separate allotment of staff for the dialysis centers has been made for now, the existing manpower of DHSK would be stretched to make these functional. Dr Singh however said that once “a model is in place”, manpower would be made available through NHM.

Officials in DHSK and NHM said that dialysis equipment was also being purchased and funds for the same had already been made available. – Greater Kashmir 

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