Unexplained Surge of Kidney Disease in Sri Lanka’s Agricultural Areas | Health Crisis

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Polonnaruwa, a village in the North Central province of Sri Lanka, is home to 63-year-old TMH Gamini Sunil Thennakoon. Thennakoon, a rice farmer, spends most days tending to his rice paddies, playing with his grandchildren, and chatting with his family. Despite his peaceful life, he has been battling unexplained kidney problems for over seven years. He takes medication to manage the pain but has not yet required dialysis.

Thennakoon is not alone in his struggles. His neighbor, U Subasinha, has also faced challenges. His wife, Kamalavathi, was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease 17 years ago, while Subasinha himself has been dealing with acute kidney failure for eight years. The couple faces financial difficulties to cover the costs of treatment and transportation to the hospital.

The prevalence of kidney diseases, especially Chronic Kidney Disease of unknown cause (CKDu), in rural Sri Lanka has raised concerns. Studies have shown a link between agricultural practices and the high incidence of kidney diseases in farming communities. Recognizing the lack of early symptoms in CKDu, efforts are being made to educate the population on reducing agrochemical usage and staying hydrated.

The economic crisis in Sri Lanka has further exacerbated the challenges faced by those affected by kidney diseases. Fishermen, like Christy PL Navil and Nadaraja Pereatambi, struggle with dehydration and food scarcity while trying to make a living. Lack of access to clean water and proper healthcare compounds the issue for many families.

Research scientists and environmental experts are working to understand the causes of kidney diseases in Sri Lanka and educate the population on preventive measures. As the country grapples with environmental changes and economic challenges, the need for awareness and support for those affected by kidney diseases remains crucial.

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