This catastrophic problem in Sri Lanka affects over 20,000 people, mainly originating from the North Central province. Although various causes have been suggested the proper cause is yet not identified clearly. Therefore it has been named as CKD of unknown aetiology (origin). Heavy metal contamination of soil and water, agro-chemicals, fertilisers and poor quality of water are among the list of possible causes.
Widespread occurrence of this kidney disease was recognized in the 1990s in the North Central Province, the dry zone of Sri Lanka; and this has been increased over a period of 10 – 15 years. High occurrence of Chronic Kidney Disease is observed in two main districts of North Central Province – Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa. This occurrence is now spreading to the adjoining districts of North Western Province, Uva province, Eastern Province, Central Province and the Northern Province. The affected area covers approximately 17,000 square km with a population of about 2.5 million in which more than 95% live in rural areas.
The medical statistics of Anuradhapura General Hospital, which is the main hospital in North Central Province, show a significant increase of patients with this attending the hospital and therefore an increase of deaths due to Chronic Kidney Disease. There is an increasing demand for medical treatments in the hospitals around this region of Sri Lanka. On the other hand there is lack of sufficient medical facilities in the country to deal with the rising number of CKD patients. Since the Kidneys of these patients are not functioning properly they are not able to clean certain metabolic toxic substances from the body. In order to remove these waste poisonous substances from the blood and protect their lives a treatment known as dialysis has to be performed minimum three days a week. A dialysis machine alone costs about £ 12,000. Moreover, other consumables that are needed for this treatment is very costly. This type of financial burden is unbearable not only to a country like Sri Lanka which is still an economically developing country but also for countries with developed economies. Similar problems exist in other South Asian countries and even in Central America, which still remains unresolved for the past 50 years.
There is a district hospital each at Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Badulla. These hospitals are under equipped to handle the large number of dialysis patients. As an example, there are about 25 dialysis machines in the Anuradhapura hospital but there is a high demand for the treatments. The doctors, nurses and other staff in these hospitals are undertaking a very valuable service tirelessly to these patients. The Ministry of Health and the government of Sri Lanka are doing their best to alleviate this problem and develop the medical facilities in the country. The patients have to travel long distances starting their journey early morning in order to receive this treatment. They are unable to accomplish their livelihoods, which is mainly farming, due to the poor physical condition of people affected by this disease. They are in a pitiful condition in many ways and on the brink of death without proper quality of life. We Sri Lankans living outside the country can do many things in small ways to help our motherland and support these needy people.