A Goa-based doctor, who provides dialysis treatment to kidney patients almost for free has approached the Supreme Court seeking direction to the Centre for replicating his model in hospitals across the country for the benefit of the poor.
The doctor, along with a patient, urged that the system of contract he has entered with Goa to run a dialysis unit each in two public hospitals — Community Health Centre, Canacona and District Hospital, Margao — should be implemented in all community health centres under the National Rural Health Mission. Both the dialysis units have been described as world-class facilities inside government hospitals, a first of its kind in the country.
Dr R Venkatesh filed a PIL to highlight the positive effects of his project. His model has run successfully despite the problems he is facing ever since the state government in September 2013 stopped payments due to him after he lodged complaints against private hospitals that allegedly duped Rs 15,000 monthly medical claim money of patients.
He said private hospitals subverted a 2007 government scheme on medical claim and earned Rs 7.42 cr in 2010-11, 12.06 cr and 10.14 cr in 2011-12 and 2012-13 respectively. The CAG had also exposed a fraud in this regard in 2011 but no FIR has been registered so far, the petitioner claimed and demanded a CBI probe.
A news report on the apex court on November 26, 2013 issuing notice to the Centre, all the states and Union territories why they should not set up a dialysis unit in every district inspired the doctor and his patient Eugene Fernandes to knock on the court’s door to put forward their own example.
“The patient (Fernandes), till date, has not incurred any expenses whatsoever for the services provided by the government hospital and is leading a peaceful life on dialysis treatment on alternate days. It is a miracle that about 100 such patients are leading a peaceful life, some of them not passing a drop of urine for the last 13 years or so on with the help of the dedicated services,” their petition claimed.
The apex court bench presided by Justice H L Dattu sought response from the Union government on the doctor’s plea, which also contended that the rapid increase in diabetes has led to rise in kidney failures, requiring two crore dialysis and 40,000 to 50,000 kidney transplantations per year.
The petitioners cited reports stating that the existing medical facilities could cater to only 5 lakh dialysis and 5,000 to 6,000 transplantations per annum. They said recent studies revealed that 30 per cent of kidney patients in the country died within 90 days, and 60 per cent within one year and 10 per cent of patients were able to survive beyond five years with the help of dialysis.
They alleged that private hospitals were putting all kinds of pressure to prevent smooth-running units in government hospitals in order to maintain their monopoly. The doctor-petitioner contended that he was not paid his dues and he owes Rs 60 lakh to banks as loan for setting up equipment in hospitals and about Rs 40 lakh incurred on disposable syringes and medicines.