Cyprus Mail
Cyprus Health

Kidney patients say health being put at risk by new tender

The dialysis unit at the Nicosia General Hospital

By Evie Andreou

Kidney patients are calling on authorities to reconsider the tender for new haemodialysis filters because the ones being asked for would endanger their health, the head of the House Watchdog Committee, George Georgiou said on Tuesday.

The committee, Georgiou said, intended to ask Health Minister George Pamporidis to delay for two weeks asking for tenders for expendables and special equipment for the haemodialysis machines at state hospitals to give time to investigate the patients’ claims.

The quality standards the ministry has included in its €30m tender for, among other things, Reverse Osmosis filters for the haemodialysis machines, the committee heard, are of inferior quality, and as a result patients end up requiring further treatment with expensive medication.

The head of the organisation of people with kidney disorders Andreas Michael told the Cyprus Mail that according to the tender, the government’s specifications for the filters of water purification systems used in haemodialysis are less powerful than those used today.

“Dialysis filters a kidney patient’s blood only by 10 to 20 per cent, compared to the filtering of a healthy person’s kidneys. The filters they want to buy now will leave higher potassium levels in our blood than today and that leads to a deterioration of our vessels. This leads to other health problems, which to be able to tackle we need to take specific pills, which cost around €230 per month,” Michael said.

“So the government will spare a few euros per patient per month to buy cheaper filters but they will spend at least €230 per month on each patient for additional medication”.

He added that, most importantly, regardless of additional costs to the state budget, this means deterioration of kidney patients’ health.

“If we live on average 25 years with dialysis, with the new filters, this will fall to 15 years,” he said.

He also said that before drawing up the tenders with inferior specifications, officials did not ask the opinion of specialist doctors who work with kidney patients.

Michael said government officials claimed they announced the tender to break a monopoly since the dialysis equipment has been provided by the same company since 2004.

To that end, they aim to remove water purification systems from all dialysis units in state hospitals, the newest of which were installed last year, the oldest five years ago, to install the new ones which will be purchased according to the tender, he said.

“The water purifications systems’ life span is 10 years, 15 if they are maintained properly, and they cost a great deal of money. Removing recently installed units to bring new ones, isn’t that a waste of tax-payer money?” Michael added.

According to Michael the patients have been told that until the situation is resolved those from Limassol and Paphos will have to travel to Nicosia for dialysis.

“Some go to dialysis three times per week, four hours every time. They want people to travel from Limassol and Paphos with the medical staff that usually tends to them during dialysis and a relative, since after dialysis we are exhausted, we can’t drive home. How is this possible? They will subject so many people to so many hardships,” he said.

He added that state officials claimed this measure will only be for 15 days, until the new systems are installed but doubted they would be installed in less than a month, as it is huge undertaking.

AKEL MP Irene Charalambidou said the committee heard the tender specifications were lowered so that a specific company was able to submit a bid.

Georgiou said that the aim is the suspension of the tender competition, which was to be announced this week, and to convene a meeting under the health minister, in the presence of all services, including the auditor-general, to examine the terms of the tenders.

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