The Illness That Baffles Us All

For long, it has been one of the most devastating illnesses in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka, and now, patients are being diagnosed in other parts of the country as well. Diabetes and hypertension are said to be the main reason people are afflicted with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). In the case of Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown etiology (CKDu) on the other hand, no known cause has been identified.

Despite many studies to pin point the cause for this illness, researches are still baffled.  The most likely culprit, say academics and medical practitioners is the water quality in the area. Though pipe-borne water is available in most parts of the country, in rural Sri Lanka, a larger number of people rely on shallow wells. Most have to trudge several miles to access water for their daily needs. These are also areas where farming is the main livelihood of residents, and it is believed that long-term use of fertilizer and pesticides have resulted in water contamination.  

Researchers also point to long –term exposure to the sun without drinking water, algae in water tanks in the area, alcohol consumption and food habits as other possible contributory factors.

A majority of those affected are male farmers who are usually the breadwinners of the family.  A diagnosis of CKDu therefore can be a virtual death sentence not only to the patient, but also the dependents.

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