Karnataka government likely to enable free healthcare for all cancer and dialysis patients

The Karnataka State Government is likely to enable all cancer and dialysis patients to get free health care similar to the current facilities available for those below the poverty line. Recognizing that these two diseases eat into the family's life's savings, former Health Minister U T Khader said: "Many patients have been pushed into poverty as they cannot afford the treatment. The move will mitigate their financial problems to an extent."

This is a welcome step. It is a pleasant surprise that a government is thinking on these lines. Both cancer and dialysis render hundreds of families penniless without any guaranteed cure or relief. People who are poor often give up and let the patient die. The middle class are often made poor due to the severe strain the treatments put on the family's finances.

The government must also simultaneously ensure that adequate infrastructure is setup to cater to the increased population that will now avail the treatments. The availability of good quality dialysis centres would be the first requirement for at least the dialysis part. I am sure similar facilities (chemotherapy centres?) would be needed for cancer treatment.

Any number of companies would be interested in partnering with the state government to set up dialysis centres using the PPP route. The government needs to ensure that these centres meet quality standards and are not focussed on making a quick buck.

This year has been good for health care, especially dialysis! For the first time, we hear governments talking about this massive problem. Only about 10% of people who need dialysis get dialysis in India. This can only be changed by government intervention.