Coronavirus-news April 16, 2020
Bangalore Kidney Foundation is reaching out to disabled people in need of dialysis during COVID-19 lockdown
For poor disabled people in need of dialysis, the extended COVID-19 or coronavirus lockdown has meant additional anxiety. With transport facilities coming to a stop and no means of income, many are unable to go for regular dialysis. This can have fatal consequences as many of them are immunocompromised.
For two years now, Madhesh, who is 100% blind, has been on dialysis. A diabetic with hypertension, Madhesh lost his sight after he developed acute retinopathy. Unable to afford aggressive treatment with his meagre wages as a hotel server, he soon lost complete vision. He lost his job and depends on his wife’s earnings.
Since the lockdown came into place, Madhesh’s wife is unable to go to work. The family has no income and meeting basic needs is a struggle. Madhesh needs dialysis three days a week to sustain his health and immunity. “The dialysis treatment is an added financial burden and as a blind person, visiting the centre three days a week is a struggle”.
Many disabled people are immunocompromised
The Bangalore Kidney Foundation (BKF), an NGO providing comprehensive renal care in India for over 40 years, is reaching out to Madhesh and others like him by offering free dialysis treatment. BKF is also looking for a long-term donor to support his comprehensive renal care.
Many of our patients come from vulnerable backgrounds and depend on daily wages for survival. Patients on dialysis, who are already immunocompromised, are at a much higher risk of contracting COVID-19 apart from the deterioration of their existing condition. BKF is taking all the necessary precautions to protect their patients and partners from community transmission of COVID-19 – Kartik Sriram, Trustee, Bangalore Kidney Foundation
The Coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown has affected the healthcare sector in unprecedented ways. Several essential health interventions like chemotherapy, dialysis, etc., have been badly affected. Patients face difficulty in accessing timely treatment due to the lack of public transport, shortage of healthcare providers and equipment, risk of exposure and inability to pay for treatment as their incomes are hit.
Lack of income, transport affects treatment
Take Muvendran, who runs a small grocery store. A diabetic for 20 years, his right leg was amputated due to gangrene. Two years ago, his kidneys failed, and he has been undergoing dialysis three times a week.
“My wife manages the home and we have a young daughter who is still in school”, says Muvendran. “My store has been shut since the lockdown came into place and that means no income”. Muvendran lives in a rented home and is worried about paying next month’s rent and putting food on the table. “Thanks to BKF I am able to go for dialysis regularly as they are doing it for free. The doctor wants me to undergo regular physiotherapy, but I don’t have the means to pay for it”.
Like Madhesh, Muvendran is also immunocompromised, making him more susceptible to COVID-19.
“It is critical that they are dialysed three times a week to ensure that they have basic immunity and are not a risk for community spread”, points out Dr Veerabhadra Gupta, Chief Nephrologist, BKF. “Apart from medical and economic support, the disabled need psychological and social support”.
The team of doctors, technicians and counsellors at BKF try to offer this as well by spending time with disabled people. “It is important to reinforce in them the value of not giving in and remind them that this is a temporary situation”, adds Sriram.
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