“Bawal Magkasakit” (It is forbidden to get sick). You can see this words on Ad campaign billboards by the DOH, the Philippines’ national health agency, and on most of their TV Ads. This rings true for most Filipinos, and is a bitter fact among us dialysis patients. It’s not news anymore to hear that a fellow patient died because of the lack of means to sustain treatment. This is quite depressing, though all I can do is contemplate on the matter.
Dialysis treatment, or most medical conditions for that matter, is not fully subsidized here in the Philippines. Although government agencies like Philhealth and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) provides assistance and financial aid to patients, it still falls short on dialysis patients’ financial needs. Some of my fellow patients on the clinic where I go cut on their treatment frequency. Instead of following the prescribed twice a week regiment, they make it once a week just to make ends meet.
There might be no immediate effect that can be felt with this kind of regiment, but doctors say that it’s bad for the patient in the long run. I guess there’s a simple explanation as to why is this so: when your kidneys are okay, they work 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week to rid your body of harmful toxins. If you suffer kidney failure, your kidneys aren’t able to do this so you rely on dialysis to work as your kidney replacements. Having to undergo dialysis twice or thrice per week would seem inadequate in terms of efficiency compared to fully functional kidneys. How much more if you’re just taking dialysis once a week? Harmful toxins would not be properly removed from your body and excess water might accumulate and lead to edema.
But you can’t really blame these patients. I myself am aware of the reasons behind their decision. After all, for a poor patient, it’s much easier to tolerate pain and inconvenience rather than await death simply because you can’t pay for your treatment anymore. This is indeed a sad and depressing fact, but it’s a reality nonetheless. In my case, I’m fortunate enough to have a generous Aunt and Uncle that shoulders the financial needs of my treatment. But let me tell you that I’m still seeking ways to be able to help myself financially. Why? Because my relatives wouldn’t be able to support me indefinitely, that’s why.
Poverty is still a growing menace, not only for us patients, but for everybody as well. And with the Global Crunch hovering above, matters seems to look a lot bleaker. I contemplated on this matter simply because anyone could be in this situation, any moment at any time. Preparing yourself for the worst to come isn’t pessimism. For me, it’s simply bracing yourself from reality.