Number of patients undergoing dialysis at SPMC increasing

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/10 June) – The number of patients undergoing dialysis due to kidney failure at the government-run Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) in Davao City is on the rise due to a sedentary lifestyle, Dr. Aileen L. Herceda, adult nephrologist and active consultant at the hospital, said on Monday.

Speaking in a press conference, Herceda said around 5,000 to 6,000 patients, mostly 50 to 60 years old, are receiving dialysis weekly, forcing the public hospital’s dialysis center to operate 24/7 just to cater to more indigent patients, including those coming from the other parts of Mindanao.

She said the increasing number of patients undergoing dialysis has already reached alarming proportions because it reflects the unhealthy lifestyle of several people.

A patient undergoes two to three dialysis sessions a week, she said.

“The advocacy of our society is to inculcate awareness among individuals who have the risk factors — hypertension, diabetes, kidney stones. These are just a prelude to inducing kidney disease which is a lifetime disease,” she said.

She said a five-story kidney center is being constructed at the SPMC that will expand the hospital’s capability in offering services such as peritoneal dialysis, hemodialysis, and kidney transplanting.

“With the projected population of those patients with kidney problem, there will be more who will likely be catered with the recent additional separate building of the SPMC,” she said.

She said the hospital would have around 100 hemodialysis machines from 60 at present once the center becomes operational next year.

Dr. Franklin Guillano, chairman of SPMC-Nephrology section, said kidney is an important organ, which flushes out wastes out of the body, balances water and calcium in the body, secretes erythropoietin hormones that command bone marrow to produce blood cells, and balances the blood pressure.

Kidney diseases are “common and deadly” but are preventable and treatable, he said. He added acute and chronic are the two types of kidney dysfunctions.

The acute kidney disease develops when a patient suffers from leptospirosis. Poisoning is reversible while the chronic type is irreversible, he said.

Guillano said the SPMC has lined up various activities for June, which is declared as “National Kidney Month” to raise public awareness about kidney and the causes of kidney failure.

He encouraged patients, particularly those with risk factors such as high blood, diabetes, and hypertension to follow a healthy lifestyle to prevent kidney diseases.

Among the cities in Mindanao, he claimed Davao to have the most number of kidney specialists. He said the city opened the first transplant facility in 1997 in Mindanao at the Davao Doctors Hospital, Southern Philippines Medical Center in 2001, and Davao Regional Medical Center in Tagum City in 2002.

He said he hopes more patients can benefit from Republic Act 11223 or the Universal Health Care Law that “automatically enrolls all Filipino citizens in the National Health Insurance Program and prescribes complementary reforms in the health system,” giving “citizens access to the full continuum of health services they need, while protecting them from enduring financial hardship as a result.”

“In the context of the Philippine setting, it is very ideal because it aims to cover all Filipinos, to have access to basic health service facilities. Everyone becomes automatic members of the Philhealth, regardless if you are a direct or indirect contributory members,” he said.

“If you go to a hospital, hopefully, we’ll cover all of these. We, Filipinos, would have peace of mind because the government is addressing all our needs. Most of us suffer from financial adversity because we have a family member who is ill, who is losing all properties to dialysis. All of that will be addressed by the universal health care,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)