I just got back from the coupon distribution of the Jain Dialysis Trust which is held on the last Sunday of every month. This event always leaves me full of mixed emotions. On the one hand, I see so many patients being benefited because these coupons are often the difference between life and death for them. On the other hand, I see a terrible lack of information about what constitutes optimal dialysis.
I overheard a donor ask a trustee about how many times a patient needs to undergo dialysis. I smiled in my mind. The classic question! How many times does a patient need to undergo dialysis?! Really. That is such a loaded question. Depending on the person asking the question and the person answering it, you could have totally different answers!
To someone totally uninitiated, how do you answer that question? To someone who has been undergoing dialysis for a while now, how do you answer that question? Most people I saw today find it difficult to even spend the Rs. 300 that they need to per session. They can barely manage to get 8 sessions a month. How do you then even begin to talk about things like more frequent dialysis and its benefits?
The trust itself is doing an excellent job by giving the gift of life to about 200 patients. What should their priority be? Better dialysis for lesser number of people or the minimum dialysis required for a larger number of people? Probably the latter. The more the number of lives you can save, the better, I guess.
What is the way forward? How do we change this?
Only the government can do something in this regard. It needs to get its priorities right. It is not as if it is an impossible task. Arogyasree has shown us that it is possible. All it needs is a little creative thinking and some balls. Instead of spending crores on things like the Commonwealth Games, the government should expand this scheme and introduce it across the country. Yes, there are problems with it. Make someone committed from the private sector in charge of it. Like they did by making Nandan Nilekani in charge of the Citizen Identity program. Give him or her a free hand. The results will be surprising.