PETALING JAYA - The National Kidney Foundation said it has been subsidising poor patients and that its reserves are just adequate for contingencies and expansion plans.
Its chairman Datuk Dr Zaki Morad said the cost of haemodialysis per session for NGOs was RM150 (S$58.80), but patients were charged only RM100 at NKF as it absorbs RM50 of the cost.
He said some patients were subsidised by the Social Security Organisation or other government agencies but others who were not, also received RM50 subsidy from the Government.
However, he said, even after the RM50 subsidy, there were patients who were unable to fork out the remainder and the NKF would also absorb this payment, providing them free haemodialysis.
Apart from that, he said the foundation would also pick the tab for patients who were still waiting for the RM50 subsidy from the Government.
"The reserves that we have is being spent. It is true that we have a surplus, but we need to keep it in the event funding sources are cut," he said.
Dr Zaki was responding to The Star's report on Friday where a life member and a staff member of NKF had said that it had a surplus income of RM5.644mil and other savings as of January last year and hence, should pick up the haemodialysis tab for poor patients, even if the Health Ministry had not approved their subsidies.
This follows The Star's front page report Thursday highlighting the plight of haemodialysis patients in NGO-run centres who had not received approvals for government subsidy.
The problem became acute since mid last year and approvals became negligible this year. Some applications have yet to be approved since 2011.
On NKF accumulated savings of more than RM50mil, Dr Zaki said its board of directors had decided to keep a financial reserve that would sustain two years of operations should all sources of income stop.
This is based on an estimation that it would take about two or more years for the foundation to place all its patients in other centres that would be willing to accept them should their funding be cut.
Dr Zaki also said that NKF had also kept the reserves for the setting up of new haemodialysis centres, maintaining current ones, carrying out kidney screenings as well as awareness campaigns.
It costs NKF RM2mil to set up a centre and they have been opening two to three centres a year, targeting states with low rates of treatment such as Sabah, Sarawak, Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah, Perlis and Pahang.
He said that NKF's annual operating expenditure was between RM32mil to RM35mil a year, of which the cost of the haemodialysis programme was RM25mil.