The National Kidney Foundation Malaysia (NKF) is raising public awareness on its Red Bean Assistance Programme to alleviate the economic burden of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) patients with anaemia, especially those from the B40 group. The program in collaboration with Roche Malaysia was started since 1st August 2019.
Prevalence of CKD in Malaysia is 15.48% based on a study in 2018, with about 50,000 patients on dialysis nationwide. Most dialysis patients have anaemia (deficiency of red blood cells) and it gets more severe as the disease progresses.
Kidneys make erythropoietin (EPO) that stimulates the body to make red blood cells. Unfortunately, the level of EPO is reduced among those with damaged kidneys. Low EPO levels lead to the development of anaemia. To make matters worse, CKD patients also lose blood during haemodialysis treatments which further reduces the haemoglobin level.
The Red Bean Assistance Programme will relieve the financial burden for CKD patients with severe anaemia by providing them with partially or fully-funded Erythropoietin-Stimulating Agent (ESA) treatment. ESA signals the bone marrow to produce more red blood cells. This innovative, monthly medication simplifies renal anaemia management for patients.
The name ‘Red Bean’ under the Red Bean Assistance Programme was chosen for its visual resemblance in shape and colour to a kidney. The programme is expected to benefit more than 600 patients for the first year and 1,000 for the next two years, making it a total of more than 1,600 patients within the first three years. This is indeed a timely program to lighten the financial burden of many poor CKD patients amid the current challenging economy.
Patients will be assessed by a qualified nephrologist for eligibility before they are referred to the nearest NKF dialysis centre or other suitable and agreed upon dialysis centre. Upon approval by NKF, the assistance will last for a year, with a review at the end for renewal.
Pictures by Fiona Okeefe, Oxford Academic & Mimi Prints