SINGAPORE: Chairman of the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) Koh Poh Tiong said Sunday that the foundation is seeking to increase the take-up rate of home dialysis treatment, also known as peritoneal dialysis (PD), among its new kidney patients.
The foundation expects the number of kidney patients under its charge to increase by four per cent each year, resulting in about 1,000 new patients by 2020. Opening new dialysis centres will become "unsustainable in the long run", said Mr Koh.
Mr Koh was speaking at the opening of the Wong Sui Ha Edna NKF Dialysis Centre in Tampines on Sunday morning. The centre is the NKF’s second dialysis centre in Tampines. It was named after the foundation received a S$4.74 million donation from the late Edna Wong.
According to the foundation, some 2,500 patients receive regular haemodialysis treatment across its 25 dialysis centres. Only about 300 patients undergo PD at home.
One of the patients who have opted for PD is 24-year-old Lim Sze Hui. She was diagnosed with kidney failure two years ago. She said PD gives her better control over her life.
"When I was on haemodialysis, I tried searching for jobs, but a majority of them could not accomodate the hours. At the same time, PD has less stress on the body compared to haemodialysis."
Sze Hui said she also saves on travelling time as she would need to visit the centre three times a week if she were on haemodialysis.
The home dialysis works by connecting a permanently attached catheter to a two-litre PD solution. The solution is infused into the body's abdominal cavity, in which dialysis takes place.
The solution remains in the body for about four (to six) hours, and is then drained into another bag. The exchange takes half an hour each time.
Mr Koh said that PD is just as good as regular dialysis treatment, but noted that many of its patients lack the confidence to conduct the treatment at home.
He added: "They have to do this dialysis at home by themselves. I suspect this is where there is some apprehension, but no problem. What we do is we can bring the patients to our centres here - for a few days, for the week and they do it in an environment where the doctors are here, the nurses are here. Once they are comfortable, then they can go back to do it on their own at home.
"What I want to do is to create an awareness among new kidney patients to say you have a choice. Before you go down to haemodialysis and sit down for five to five hours, there is an (alternative)."
NKF said it gets about 38 new patients a month, of which eight go on home dialysis. This is about 22 per cent of newly admitted patients. NKF aims to push this figure up to at least 30 per cent.
With current centres operating at more than 90 per cent capacity, and in a bid to mitigate rising operating costs and a lack of space, NKF said the push towards home dialysis has never been more urgent.
Mr Koh said: "Void decks, I understand, are in big demand. Every block wants their own void deck for their own community development, community activities. So we're trying to think out of the box - where are the spaces.
"I have requested the Ministry of Health, that when they build new hospitals, to consider giving us some space. I'm also looking at other areas, maybe schools one day, maybe community centres, because we must do it."
It is not the first time that the foundation has been promoting PD uptake among its dialysis patients, but it is now offering more support to these patients. This includes home visits by its nurses, as well as covering basic costs to make homes more conducive for PD patients.
From May, the foundation will also extend social and medical welfare to better support PD patients. This will include providing free blood tests and basic food necessities to patients. - CNA/jc/ac
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