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Query to govt on free dialysis unit in every district

New Delhi, Nov. 25: The Supreme Court has sought responses from the Centre and states to a public interest litigation that seeks an adequate number of dialysis centres across the country for kidney patients.

Advocate Sanjiv Panigrahi’s petition has sought a directive to the government to ensure every district has at least one dialysis centre to provide free services.

It said an estimated two lakh Indians died of kidney disease every year.

The bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam and Justices Ranjana Prakash Desai and Ranjan Gogoi today asked the governments to respond within four weeks.

As kidney transplants are expensive and difficult because of the lack of voluntary donors, patients have to rely only on dialysis for survival, the petition said.

But the lack of enough dialysis centres means that the patients — who have to undergo the process twice a week — have to wait months for their turn, said Panigrahi’s petition, filed through his lawyers Purshottam Chandra Tripathi and Ravi Chandra Prakash.

Around eight lakh Indians need dialysis at any given point of time but only 25,000 get lucky, the petition said.

It cited statistics from the National Kidney Foundation that show that over 7.85 million Indians suffer from renal problems, and up to 41 per cent of them have chronic kidney diseases (CKD).

The petition dubbed CKD a “silent killer” that leads to nearly two deaths every five minutes, 547 every day, and two lakh annually.

CKD is treatable and, in some cases, curable but only a handful of those requiring dialysis get it, the petition said.

Many deaths are blamed on the lack of dialysis machines. The Union health ministry’s estimates suggest that India needs 50,000 such machines but has only a fifth of the requirement.

The petition also highlighted the lack of a formal referral system under which patients can go to any hospital, including government referral hospitals, anywhere in the country.

The situation forces many to seek treatment in expensive private hospitals but these are beyond the reach of 90 per cent of the population, the petition added.