09/03/2016 – Monaragala, Sri Lanka: The Monaragala Branch of the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS) has been implementing a project to provide water purification plants in Edurugal Yaya village in the Monaragala District. This is one of the villages where there is a rise of kidney diseases due to unsafe drinking water.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) has become a major health problem in rural Sri Lanka. Previously confined to North Central and Uva provinces, it is now prevalent in the Northwestern, Eastern, Southern and Central provinces, and parts of the Northern provinces.
Most of those living in these poverty-stricken districts are paddy cultivators. Many of the victims are male farmers and agricultural labourers. Growing numbers of cases, however, are being reported among women and children as well.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 15 percent of the population aged 15–70 years in the North Central and Uva provinces are affected with CKD. Monaragala falls within the Uva Province. Over 22,000 deaths from the disease have been recorded in the Anuradhapura district in the North Central Province since CKD was first identified in 1991.
The SLRCS Monaragala branch has been working with communities in the area in order to educate them of methods of securing safe drinking water and on water purification tablets. In Edurugal Yaya alone the Red Cross is supporting 43 families within the village.
One of the solutions the branch is providing families are to install a water purification system that would help families to consume safe drinking water.
Over 1,100 CKD patients are hospitalised per month in Sri Lanka and 300 deaths recorded per year. The death rate, however, is actually higher than this because many of the victims die at home.