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Ethical challenges in the provision of dialysis in resource-constrained environments


Luyckx, Valerie A; Miljeteig, Ingrid; Ejigu, Addisu M; Moosa, M Rafique (2017). Ethical challenges in the provision of dialysis in resource-constrained environments. Seminars in Nephrology, 37(3):273-286.

Abstract

The number of patients requiring dialysis by 2030 is projected to double worldwide, with the largest increase expected in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Dialysis is seldom considered a high priority by health care funders, consequently, few LMICs develop policies regarding dialysis allocation. Dialysis facilities may exist, but access remains highly inequitable in LMICs. High out-of-pocket payments make dialysis unsustainable and plunge many families into poverty. Patients, families, and clinicians suffer significant emotional and moral distress from daily life-and-death decisions imposed by dialysis. The health system's obligation to provide financial risk protection is an important component of global and national strategies to achieve universal health coverage. An ethical imperative therefore exists to develop transparent dialysis priority-setting guidelines to facilitate public understanding and acceptance of the realistic limits within the health system, and facilitate fair allocation of scarce resources. In this article, we present ethical challenges faced by patients, families, clinicians, and policy makers where dialysis is not universally accessible and discuss the potential ethical consequences of various dialysis allocation strategies. Finally, we suggest an ethical framework for use in policy development for priority setting of dialysis care. The accountability for reasonableness framework is proposed as a procedurally fair decision-making, priority-setting process.

Abstract

The number of patients requiring dialysis by 2030 is projected to double worldwide, with the largest increase expected in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Dialysis is seldom considered a high priority by health care funders, consequently, few LMICs develop policies regarding dialysis allocation. Dialysis facilities may exist, but access remains highly inequitable in LMICs. High out-of-pocket payments make dialysis unsustainable and plunge many families into poverty. Patients, families, and clinicians suffer significant emotional and moral distress from daily life-and-death decisions imposed by dialysis. The health system's obligation to provide financial risk protection is an important component of global and national strategies to achieve universal health coverage. An ethical imperative therefore exists to develop transparent dialysis priority-setting guidelines to facilitate public understanding and acceptance of the realistic limits within the health system, and facilitate fair allocation of scarce resources. In this article, we present ethical challenges faced by patients, families, clinicians, and policy makers where dialysis is not universally accessible and discuss the potential ethical consequences of various dialysis allocation strategies. Finally, we suggest an ethical framework for use in policy development for priority setting of dialysis care. The accountability for reasonableness framework is proposed as a procedurally fair decision-making, priority-setting process.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Biomedical Ethics and History of Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:May 2017
Deposited On:23 Feb 2018 20:10
Last Modified:14 Mar 2018 17:32
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0270-9295
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.semnephrol.2017.02.007
PubMed ID:28532556

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