Some doctors have joined hands to help the chronic kidney patients from the weaker sections and the effort is a success, reports Aaqib Hyder
When Muzaffar Maqsood Wani, a consultant nephrologist flew home from his off-shore assignment, he came back with an inspiration and loads of experience. Watching closely how his colleagues were getting together to help poor patients in their treatment, he wanted to replicate the model at home.
In 2014, Wani along with his colleague Dr Imtiyaz Ahmad Wani, worked on the idea. After putting a lot of thought and work into it, the idea took shape of an NGO, later that year. In 2015 it started functioning.
As both the doctors, senior neurologists at the SKIMS, Soura, knew the personal details of the chronic kidney patients, they could easily identify those requiring help. When it came to naming the NGO, they named it Boukvat, the Kashmiri name for kidney.
“The name is self-explanatory and easily understandable to general public,” Wani said. Soon they started registering patients for help.
Now the NGO collaborates with several dialysis centres, chemists and diagnostic labs around SKIMS, enabling financially weak patients get medicines, tests and dialysis done at highly subsidised costs. The NGO doesn’t extend any help in cash.
“Those chronic kidney failure patients who live in a hand-to-mouth situation often find themselves in a serious quandary; to treat the disease or to take care of the family expenses. Opting the first option naturally gives birth to a plethora of new problems like huge debts and compromises in basic family needs,” Wani explained. “That is where Boukvat comes in with a helping hand.”
Most of the funds come from the donations made by the people in general and doctor fraternity in particular. Anyone can link their personal bank account with the NGO’s bank for monthly donations.
Incidentally, several members of the NGO comprise individuals having a personal and first-hand experience of the sufferings of chronic kidney diseases. Wani believes that the members understand the burden of such patients in a much better and effective way as they have an emotional and personal element attached to it.
Gynaecologist Dr. Shahida Mir, who earlier headed the Government Medical College Srinagar, heads the NGO. Incidentally, she also falls in the same category as her husband, dermatologist Dr Qazi Masood, is a chronic kidney patient. He has undergone a kidney transplant surgery also.
“We have amazingly dedicated members in our team who are always ready to help,” Wani said. “Dr Shahida has been extremely helpful in the working of the organization in particular. From managing the organization to financial help, her contributions are noteworthy.”
HPVT (Help Poor Voluntary Trust), a local voluntary trust coordinates the transactions of the organization, from paying the dialysis centre bills to driver’s salary and fuel. After few years when the transactions increased and there was a good amount of money flowing to and fro, the founders hired a chartered account for audits and professional record-keeping.
Post kidney transplant surgeries, some patients develop severe complications and become extremely sick. The infection gets so severe that normal antibiotics don’t work and the medications for treating that condition cost at least Rs 70,000. The organization also caters to such patients and reimburses a major part of their expenses, according to Wani. Apart from the blood dialysis patients, the NGO helps poor patients requiring Continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD). The procedure costs around Rs 30,000 per month and the organization bears more than half of it.
“Transplant surgery is a huge thing for a patient and usually relatives and friends offer help at that time but post-surgery the patient has to bear every expense on his own,” said Dr Imtiyaz Ahmad Wani. “We try to fill that gap and provide a prolonged support to the patient.”,
In Kashmir, transporting a patient to a hospital can be tricky at times. It can even lead to fatal damage like cases in situation of unrest in 2010, 2016 or in the 2019 lockdown.
Keeping such situations in mind, the NGO collaborated with a US based charity ‘Kashmer’ two years ago. Run by a group of Kashmiri doctors, Kashmer, provided a vehicle to the Boukvat for transporting chronic kidney patients to hospitals and dialysis centres free of cost.
“A chronic kidney failure patient usually needs two dialysis a week and every patient can’t afford booking a cab eight times a month,” Wani said. “Travelling in such situations becomes extremely dangerous during shutdowns and curfews.”
In November, 2018, the Government of India introduced Ayushman Bharat Golden card under Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna (PMJAY), under which a BPL patient can avail an insurance of Rs 5 lakh per year. Since then the burden of Boukvat has lessened to a large extent. The scheme fully reimburses the chronic kidney patients for dialysis and costly medicines. The “savings” are piling up and the NGO is planning to diversify their work in other aspects.
Now, the NGO is planning to buy another ambulance for the poor patients hailing from far flung areas. Besides, it is also planning to sponsor those expenses of patients who are usually ignored by attendents due to financial constraints and aren’t catered by health insurances and Government schemes. Costly protein diets and vitamins have been put at the top priority as patients don’t usually give much importance to them despite being as important as the medicines.
“We are trying our best to lend a helping hand to chronic kidney patients in need in every way possible,” Wani said. “We have some new ideas in mind regarding the diet costs of such patients and transport needs which we will try to materialize as soon as possible.”