RANTAU: The 13 Mawar haemodialysis centres providing treatment for over 500 kidney patients are running out of money.
Established 20 years ago, the centres are now having financial problems after its headquarters in Seremban was shut down by the Health Ministry on Feb 14 this year.
Lawyer Ng Kian Nam, who heads the "Save the haemodialysis patients committee", said on Friday (April 12) that the licences of five of the centres have also expired.
The committee is an ad hoc committee set up by Ng who is also MCA civil society bureau movement chairman.
According to Ng, the licences for other centres will expire in stages and the one in Rantau will expire by the end of July.
"Our main concern is the patients who are from the lower-income group," he added.
On Thursday (April 11), the committee held a peaceful protest outside the Rantau centre, calling for Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye's resignation over his alleged failure to sort out issues relating to licences.
Ng said the management needed a licence from the ministry to resume operations as well as run the 13 centres.
In November last year, the ministry ordered the Mawar Medical Centre in Seremban to cease operations after all but with one specialist resigned. Its licence was revoked on Jan 12.
According to Ng, three of the 274 patients from the headquarters have died, while the ministry sent the rest to other haemodialysis centres.
"We do not know what plans the ministry has for the 500-over patients from the centres.
"The uncertainty has put the patients and their families under severe stress," he said.
The "save the haemodialysis patients" petition, which kicked off a week ago, has received 1,500 signatures so far.
A hawker from Rantau said the ministry should help the centres and issue a licence to its headquarters as soon as possible.
She said her father, who died four years ago, received haemodialysis treatment in the Rantau branch and was transferred to the headquarters when his condition deteriorated.
"Haemodialysis in Mawar is cheaper than from private hospitals," she said.
She said her husband's friend, who is a kidney patient in his 40s, refused to go for haemodialysis due to financial problems and died within a week.