In a recent report released by The Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), it has been stated that due to virus existing co-morbidities among Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) patients and their repeated unavoidable exposure to healthcare centres they are vulnerable to contracting the deadly coronavirus. Therefore, with their immunity severely compromised already due to the kidney ailments, social distancing in the time of COVID-19 is especially important for such patients. Hence in such a scenario, home-based dialysis therapies such as Peritoneal Dialysis (PD) have thus emerged as a boon for such patients. These new-age treatment methods have not only offered a ray of hope to kidney patients but has also made it possible for them to undergo frequent dialysis even without visiting the hospital.
PD is a needle-free dialysis treatment option that best replicates the natural kidney function. A soft plastic tube (catheter) is placed into the abdomen by surgery. The end of the catheter remains outside the abdomen through a small incision in the skin. In this method of care, the dialysate is placed in the belly through the catheter that will draw waste and fluid from the blood. When PD starts, the solution with salt and other additives flow from a bag through the tube into the abdomen. Once the bag is empty, the patient can remove the catheter from the bag and put a cap on it, so that they can move around to do normal activities. The dialysate, when it is inside the abdomen, absorbs extra fluids and wastes from the body. The used dialysis solution can then be disposed of down the drain of a sink. The procedure is started again the next time with a fresh dialysate bag. The solution stays inside the belly for four to six hours or more and each exchange usually takes between 30 and 40 minutes.
Even though the benefits of peritoneal dialysis have been realized in the recent times, its penetration in the country still remains low. The primary reasons behind its low penetration are lack of awareness, unavailability of insurance reimbursement and prevalent attitude barriers.
A major myth associated with home healthcare is that people feel it is not required if a patient is already visiting hospitals for treatment. As a matter of fact, home healthcare supplements the efforts of hospitals and involves working closely with doctors and nurses to ensure the best care possible to a patient. Many patients also fear to dialyse without direct medical supervision or fear that they will not be able to perform self-care dialysis adequately. However, during home-based dialysis, there is help provided to the patient. A doctor is only a phone call away. Patients are fully under the observation of medical experts. Hence, with number coronavirus cases increasing every day, there is an urgent need for regular counselling of patients and their caregivers on the treatment procedure/protocols. The medical fraternity now more than ever needs to build awareness about PD in so that the patients as well as the medical professionals can consider it as a preferred therapy option for a CKD patient. There is an urgent need to address these barriers at various levels in order to increase the reach of this life-saving therapy.