By: Olkeriil Ngirudelsang

At around 4pm yesterday, senate bill no. 11-31, HD2, SD3 was transmitted to President Surangel Whipps Jr. for his approval. The bill appropriated $480,000 from the NCD fund to procure 5 new hemodialysis machines, and help fund the 2021 Belau Games.

Of the proposed $480,000, $320,000 dollars will be divided equally to each of Palau’s 16 states, a $20,000 per state to prepare for 2021 Belau Games and to promote prevention of Non-communicable disease (NCD).  Another $20,000 will go to PNOC to manage and coordinate the 2021 Belau games. Notably, $140,600 will be awarded to the Ministry of Health and Human Services to purchase 5 additional hemodialysis machines.

There are approximately 30 hemodialysis patients receiving treatment. As previously reported, Dr. Mekoll shared with Island Times that there are currently 9 hemodialysis machines. 6 are operational working six days a week while one is awaiting parts to be repaired and 2 are broken beyond repair.

In a phone interview, Senate president Hokkons Baules stated that “I have an understanding with the Speaker of the House of Delegates and the President so I’m very certain that the President will approve this.”

At last Wednesday’s press conference, Whipps said “the latest estimate is $113,000 for five new hemodialysis machines and $9,000 dollars for parts; so the $140,000 should be enough to cover those”.  They expect to put 4 into use while one will be kept as back up.

As for the funds given to each state, the president emphasized that they are not meant to be spent just for the Belau games. “This is not merely for games only, it is intended to initiate NCD programs, sports and good health” said Whipps.

The bill’s legislative findings, states PNOC, Governors’ Association, with assistance from the Ministry of Health and other relevant agencies, “have recently developed detailed proposals to implement the physical activity portion of Palau’s non-communicable disease strategic plan”. It also cited that “the shortage of hemodialysis machines has resulted in hospital staff having to work longer hours to cater to patients scheduled multiple times a week.

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