Financial assistance programme for low-income kidney disease patients

PETALING JAYA: Low-income patients with chronic kidney disease can look forward to get partially or fully-funded Epoetin treatment - an injection for dialysis patients with severe anaemia, through the Red Bean Assistance Programme.
Launched by Roche Malaysia under its Roche Cares programme and the National Kidney Foundation (NKF), the programme was aimed at reducing the financial burden of dialysis patients, especially those from the B40 group.
Anaemia (deficiency of red blood cells) is present in most pre-dialysis patients, and it gets more prominent as the disease progresses.
Our kidneys produce erythropoietin (EPO) hormone that tells the body to make red blood cells. However, the EPO level reduces when the kidneys are damaged or diseased, hence leading to the development of anaemia.
NKF Board of Directors chairman Datuk Dr Zaki Morad Mohd Zaher said the financial assistance programme was based on a co-payment funding model to share the burden of treatment costs with patients.
“We are thankful for the initiative that allow us to assist eligible patients to receive EPO, which is the most important medication for kidney failure patients.
“EPO is also used extensively to avoid or minimise blood transfusion during dialysis,” he said after the programme’s launch by Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad at NKF here on Thursday (July 25).
Also present was Roche Malaysia general manager Lance Duan.
In his speech, Dr Dzulkefly lauded the programme, saying that such a collaboration helps to reduce patient load at government hospitals.
“By 2020, we expect the number of end-stage kidney failure patients to increase to 51,000 with estimated treatment cost to government at RM1.5bil; whilst our lack of nephrologists is another challenge.

“I am pleased to see that the programme will benefit over 1,600 patients within the first three years.
“I call on more pharmaceutical players to emulate Roche Malaysia and create similar partnerships to reduce the healthcare burden from the public sector,” he said.
The Red Bean Assistance Programme is open for patients in the Klang Valley as a start, and will roll out to patients nationwide from January 2020 onwards.
Patients will be assessed by a qualified nephrologist for eligibility before they are referred to the nearest NKF dialysis centre.
Upon approval by NKF, the assistance will last for a year, with a review at the end for renewal.
Kidney failure patients, whether they are on dialysis or not, and including non-NKF patients from government hospitals, private and NGOs dialysis centres that require EPO treatment are eligible to apply for the programme through NKF centres nationwide. 
For more information, visit or call NKF at 03-7954 0052/0119.
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