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    Mar 30, 2016

    Largest NKF dialysis centre to open in Jurong

    TO COPE with rapidly rising kidney failure numbers here, the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is building its largest dialysis centre - a $12 million complex in Jurong with 24-hour dialysis and dedicated to kidney care.

    The new facility, 10 times the size of regular centres, is expected to have 200 dialysis stations, and will cater to 2,000 patients a week, taking the load off the foundation's 29 other centres, particularly those in the west, which are nearly full.

    Adding a night dialysis slot enables centres to expand capacity, and also makes going for dialysis more convenient for patients with busy day jobs.

    NKF is the main dialysis provider in Singapore, and nearly all its 3,800-odd patients have high blood pressure, while three-quarters have diabetes. Both conditions are on the rise here, and are also leading causes of kidney failure.

    According to the latest Singapore Renal Registry Report, there were 5,521 people on dialysis in 2013, up from 5,244 the year before. It is the only option apart from a transplant, and patients must do it for life.

    Apart from dialysis, the Corporation Road complex, which will likely open in phases starting next year, will also teach patients how to carry out peritoneal dialysis - a special form of dialysis they can do at home.

    Plans for the centre were announced by Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam yesterday, at the opening of the NKF's first 24-hour dialysis centre in Jurong West, which gives patients more flexibility to choose when they want treatment.

    Of the yet-to-open facility, he said it "will greatly expand access to subsidised haemodialysis services to the renal patients in the Western region".

    He noted too that NKF must go beyond offering dialysis services and tackle the problem at its roots through better education and prevention programmes to curb the onset of kidney diseases.

    Peritoneal dialysis, which is more convenient and just as effective as dialysis done in the centres, is not common in Singapore, according to NKF chief executive Edmund Kwok, and the new centre will try to change that.

    "One of the reasons that people have shied away from it is they are not very confident that they can do it themselves," he said.

    "Those who are not very sure, you can come to the (new) centre and we will train you for as long as you need. As you get better, more independent, you will be able to do it yourself."

    A third of the funding for the new centre will come from the Sirivadhanabhakdi Foundation, which is based in Thailand and supports medical, religious and educational causes.

    The centre will also focus on preventing kidney failure.

    "We must redouble our efforts on preventive care," Mr Tharman said.

    "One in nine adult Singaporeans has diabetes, and the number is growing."