Tuesday 21st July 2020
The National Federation Party says patients from low income families requiring kidney dialysis have been betrayed by the Fiji First Government after the meagre sum of $100,000 was allocated towards subsidsing dialysis costs in the 2020-21 Budget.
NFP Vice-President and Member of Parliament Lenora Qereqeretabua says this proves that the Fiji First Government’s pre-November 2018 election budetary allocation of $3.5 million to subsidise kidney dialysis for low-income families, with a combined income of less than $30,000 per annum, was an election gimmick and a vote buying exercise.
“This is a gross insult and adding more pain and misery to kidney dialysis patients from low income families who simply cannot afford the exorbitant dialysis costs – a treatment they require three times a week”.
“Kidney dialysis is not cheap. With the exception of Labasa Hospital where patients are charged $150 per session and those with low incomes entitled to a subsidised rate of $75 per session, patients in three other divisions have no access to subsidised dialysis and have to pay between $200 and $250 for each session”.
“Government’s promise during the 2018-19 budget of building kidney dialysis treatment centres as well its 2017-18 budget promise of equipping Lautoka Hospital with 4 new dialysis machines have obviously not materialised”.
It has also become obvious that the Fiji First Government’s allocation of $3.5 million in the 2018-19 budget wasn’t genuine but reactionary because the NFP had already announced in July 2017 its intention of providing free dialysis to patients from families earning less than $30,000 per annum and subsidized treatment to those from incomes of more than $30,000”.
“This is an example of how unkind and uncaring the Fiji First Government is, which was only obsessed with vote-buying by handing freebies haphazardly in 2018, while people who genuinely need assistance are now being neglected”.
This would mean kidney patients below the threshold of $30,000 will end up paying a total of between $450 a week in the case of the Northern Division patients being treated at Labasa Hospital or between $600 and $750 for patients in other Divisions for three sessions er week”.
“This was simply unaffordable in 2018. With the ecomonic downturn last year, exacerbated in 2020 by Covid-19 resulting in unemployment or drastically reduced wages and salaries, this essential treatment is impossible for patients”.
This is a Government that says all Fijian families matter. Now it is insulting the poor and ordinary citizens of Fiji by slashing budget for subsidised dialysis from $3.5m pre-election to $200,000 in 2019 and $100,000 in this budget”.
“This is at the height of insult and people should now know that this government only cares about itself afloat and the fat salaries of its Cabinet Ministers that are still exorboitant despite a 20% cut”.
“The NFP will move a Motion during the Budget scrutiny in Parliament next week to increase the allocation for subsidised dialysis allocation to be increased to $3.5 million.”