SRINAGAR: Hundreds of renal failure patients in Kashmir have been facing life-threatening situations due to cross-infection acquired during hemodialysis procedures at private dialysis centres.
As per sources and medical professionals, nearly 20 private dialysis centres have been registered by the Directorate of Health Services, Kashmir. In the absence of checks by the Health Department, almost every centre has consistently failed to follow the infection control guidelines of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
“It has seriously affected the patients because most of them have acquired the chronic liver diseases, Hepatitis C and Hepatitis B,” they said.
Every top private dialysis centre in Kashmir – including Khyber Hospital, Illahiya Dialysis Centre, Wellness Care Dialysis Centre, Shifa Hospital, Noora Hospital, Ahmad Hospital and Florence Hospital – is running without proper infection control mechanisms, due to which many patients have acquired Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B and other infections.
“The Health Department doesn’t have any mechanism to check the functioning of these dialysis centres. Unfortunately, most of these centres are running without nephrologists and dialysis physicians, which leads to the serious issues of cross-infection among renal failure patients,” said a senior physician, requesting anonymity.
Muhammad Saleem (name changed), a renal failure patient from Batmaloo, told Kashmir Reader that he got infected with Hepatitis C last year at Illahi Dialysis Centre, Soura, because the authorities there failed to sterilise the machines at the centre.
“I have been undergoing dialysis at the centre for the last four years. I was doing fine till last year when I got infected with Hepatitis C due to the negligence of technicians there. I am not alone; there were dozens like me who tested positive for Hepatitis C the same year,” he said.
Although physicians at SMHS Hospital are managing him now, but they have said that Hepatitis C can be life-threatening for Saleem.
“I am already facing debt due to costly medicines and treatment for kidney failure. The situation further worsened at home after I was detected positive for Hepatitis C,” he said.
Similarly, there are complaints from Khyber Hospital, which, with 17 machines, is running the biggest dialysis centre in Kashmir.
“My aunt is fighting deadly Hepatitis B due to the negligence of Khyber Hospital,” said Shazia Wani (name changed) of Pulwama.
She said the hospital authorities had left her family in a distressing situation some months ago when they told the patient’s relatives about the infection.
“We were shocked to hear the news. But we were not able to do anything. She is now under regressive treatment, which is taking a toll on her health,” Wani said.
At Wellness Care Dialysis Centre, nearly eight Hepatitis C patients are undergoing treatment after they acquired the infection, sources said.
A nephrologist told Kashmir Reader that dialysis centre-associated infections are a major risk to patients if proper anti-infection measures are not taken.
“Measures like sterilisation and cleaning of machines should be done regularly using a proper wash mechanism, otherwise the centres are the breeding grounds of infection,” he said.
According to him, infectious diseases like Hepatitis C and B are the next-most common cause of death for dialysis patients after cardiovascular causes.
“The deaths in these patients occur mainly due to sepsis, peritonitis, influenza, tuberculosis and pneumonia,” he said.