Improving Conditions for Chronic Kidney Patients
According to Mikhail Popov, who lives near Moscow and has been without any kidneys for nine years, he is a totally dependent on the health service and has to have haemodialysis every other day using an artificial kidney machine. He described his treatment to journalists at the Independent Press Centre. According to Kirill Danishevsky, chairman of the Society of Specialists in Demonstrative Medicine, an estimated 100-140,000 people in Russia today require dialysis. Although there were no reliable statistics, it was estimated that only one in ten of those requiring help was receiving treatment. According to Aleksandr Saversky, president of the All-Russia voluntary organisation “League of Patients’ Rights Workers”, no more than 20,000 Russians were receiving dialysis. According to data from the website www.globaldialysis.com, only 22 dialysis centres were operating in Russia, whereas in the USA there were about 5000, and countries such as Uruguay, Slovakia and Philippines were overtaking Russia in this respect. The most difficult situation concerning access to dialysis was in the Russian regions, but not everything was satisfactory in the capital. Mr Popov stated that there were 35 dialysis patients who live in his area of Moscow region and they had to travel at a strictly appointed time every other day to the nearest dialysis centre. Although they had free travel in an ambulance there was no doctor or resuscitation unit inside and they had to wait on the street in all weathers, possibly catching a chest cold, which was dangerous for kidney patients.
Mr Popov considered that the alternative to dialysis – transplant of a donor kidney – is also not a panacea. He had had two transplant operations, and in one case his immune system had rejected the donor kidney while the other operation had not succeeded. Despite his health problems, Mr Popov has started a campaign to open a dialysis centre in his area. He plans to hold a meeting with those local residents interested and then set up a voluntary organisation. According to Professor Vasily Vlasov, vice-president of the Society of Specialists in Demonstrative Medicine, there is virtually no one in Russia to defend the rights of chronic kidney patients. Those who do not receive help die, while those who receive help are silent so as not to be deprived of it. The route chosen by Mr Popov is an unusual one in Russia. Aleksandr Saversky regards the creation of voluntary organisations, appeals to the authorities and lobbying for changes in the health service as one route. The other route is a legal one, which close relatives of those who could not be saved can already use. Dialysis has been their only chance and refusal of medical assistance resulting in death falls under the Criminal Code of Russia. Lack of provision for dialysis also comes under the category of negligence. The League of Patients’ Rights Workers urges citizens to apply for legal assistance. Kirill Danishvesky of the Society of Specialists in Demonstrative Medicine also expressed his readiness to help people with kidney problems.