PUTRAJAYA: The Health Ministry has stopped issuing new licences for dialysis centres and will close down existing ones that do not meet requirements and endanger patients’ safety.
There are now 560 haemodialysis centres nationwide run by NGOs and private firms but only 326 have licences from the ministry.
Deputy Health director-general Datuk Dr S. Jeyaindran said the centres that failed to meet standards would be closed down in stages after being given enough time for compliance.
The ministry would also find suitable alternative centres to relocate patients.
“Two haemodialysis centres, one in Kuala Lumpur and the other in Penang, were closed down recently,” he said.
Out of the 234 unlicensed centres, 114 had structural problems, were run without proper policies and did not submit applications for approval.
The issuance of licences to 80 centres was deferred because the operators did not comply with requirements as promised while another 40 centres did not have trained staff.
The pinching of staff also meant that some centres, whose employees had left, were unable to meet the requirements.
Operating licences of haemodialysis centres are renewable every two years, subject to meeting the ministry’s criteria.
Last month, The Star highlighted the plight of haemodialysis patients whose approvals for a government subsidy of RM600 per month were delayed.
An estimated 5,000 new kidney patients were diagnosed with end-stage kidney failure each year over the last three years. About half the patients going to NGO-run centres need treatment subsidy from the Government.
Dr Jeyaindran said the ministry had given out almost RM45mil (RM2mil in subsidy for dialysis and RM21mil in subsidy for erythropoietin injections each year), not including aid given by other government agencies.
Erythropoietin is a hormone produced by the kidneys and controls red blood cell production.
He said the ministry was looking for companies to donate dialysis machines to ensure that the lower income group also received haemodialysis treatment with patient safety adhered to, as done by Maybank and Tabung Haji.
“We have the capacity for 1,700 dialysis slots but we only have 1,500 machines and need 200 more,” he said.
He said sponsorship from non-government entities was in keeping with the Prime Minister’s call for a public-private partnership, which encouraged optimum utilisation of resources.
On the training of renal staff, he said the ministry and the Malaysian Society of Nephrology had started a 200-hour programme on dialysis management for 60 doctors and also increased the number of renal nurses being trained.
There will be three more programmes to ensure an adequate number of trained doctors and nurses by the end of next year.
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