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Govt urged to give Covid-19 inoculation priority to CKD patients

KUALA LUMPUR: The government has been urged to give Covid-19 inoculation priority to patients with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD).

Giving vaccination priority to the group would reduce overcrowding at the Health Ministry’s haemodialysis (HD) centres.

The move would also help return to some normalcy in the HD centres in the private and the non-governmental organisation’s programmes, said the National Kidney Foundation, Malaysian Society of Nephrology and the Malaysian Society of Transplantation in a joint statement.

In the joint statement by Datuk Dr Zaki Morad, chairman of National Kidney Foundation; Prof Dr Abdul Halim Abdul Gafor, president of Malaysian Society of Nephrology; and, Dr Rosnawati Yahya, president of Malaysian Society of Transplantation, they said: “We now know that the government will start vaccination against the virus soon. We hope the Health Ministry will give special priority to the patients with CKD”.

The trio urged priority be given to the following groups:

  • Patients on Haemodialysis and Peritoneal Dialysis;
  • Patients with functioning kidney transplants;
  • Healthcare workers directly attending to Haemodialysis and Peritoneal Dialysis patients;
  • Family members of Haemodialysis/Peritoneal Dialysis/Kidney transplant patients; and,
  • Patients with CKD stage 3-4 (pre-dialysis).

The medical practitioners said they were concerned on the impact of Covid-19 infection in patients with CKD, especially those with CKD stage 5 who are receiving treatment with dialysis or kidney transplantation.

“Experience worldwide has shown this group of patients are very vulnerable to serious complications of Covid-19 infection and there is significant mortality amongst those infected. Similarly, there is an increased risk of healthcare workers (HCW) attending to these patients acquiring this infection due to frequent encounters,” the trio said.

They added that there are now about 50,000 patients living on dialysis or have a functioning kidney transplant in the country, with the vast majority of whom are on haemodialysis.

These patients have impaired immunity either inherently from their illness or induced by medications, making them eminently vulnerable to complications, they said.

They said the financial impact on a patient and his family, the staff and to the HD centre’s management once a Covid -19 infection takes place is huge.

“There are tests for the virus to be done, PPEs to be donned, and the affected centre has to be sanitised.

“The emotional strain on patients and staff once a centre has an infected patient is un-measurable.

“We thank the Health Ministry’s nephrologists and their HD units for accepting most infected HD patients from the private and NGO centres”.

The trio also explained that the patients on HD and the staff looking after them are also particularly vulnerable.

“They stay in a confined space for long hours and any undetected infection amongst them can have disastrous consequences”.

Presently, all HD centres follow stringent guidelines set by national and international bodies to prevent cross-infection, they said.

The trio said Haemodialysis staff are specialised nurses and if infected, they have to be quarantined, reducing the centre’s capability to look after the patients, as they are not readily replaceable.

“We are happy to assist the Health Ministry in the vaccination program.

“The National Renal Registry of the Malaysian Society of Nephrology and the National Kidney Foundation of Malaysia can assist in disseminating information as well assist the Ministry in scheduling vaccinations,” they said.

Source: New Straits Times

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