Providing water filters to combat kidney disease in rural Matale

Posted on Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

22/12/2016 – Matale, Sri Lanka: The Sri Lanka Red Cross Society’s (SLRCS) Health & Care Programme’s continuation support towards eradicating kidney diseases in rural Sri Lanka continues with another attempt to raise awareness and to educate the public of the importance of clean drinking water and how it can help people eradicate and prevent chronic kidney diseases. This time residents in Guruwelayaya village in the Wilgamuwa in the Matale district.

In Sri Lanka paddy cultivation is the livelihood of 1.8 million families. In paddy cultivation the extensive use of agro chemicals not only make the soil infertile, eliminate all forms of insect life forms, contaminate water bodies, but also cause a chronic kidney disease among farmers.

Indeed, this new form of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is pervading the dry zone of Sri Lanka and it is setting up a humanitarian tragedy with huge implications for society, economy, and environment.

Detected for the first time in the early 1990s in the Northern Districts of the country, the disease is now spreading to North West, East, and Uva as well as Central and Northern Provinces. CKD is mainly common among male farmers between the ages of 40 to 60, engaged in rice cultivation, although lately, it has also been identified among women, children, and even cattle.

The pesticides in the soil most of the time get mixed with drinking water drawn from wells hence posing a serious risk to residents in risk areas.

Accordingly in Guruwelayaya, SLRCS distributed water filters to 200 families aimed at ensuring that they do have the ability to consume safe drinking water.

This project with the support from Sri Lanka Red Cross commercial arm REDMO who manufactures the water filters, have been ongoing for the past few years. Recently they introduced a new version of this water filter which has the ability to remove fluoride, arsenic and cadmium from the water. This is done through an ion exchange mechanism by interacting with the surface of different clay mineral types.

Mr. P. Selvarathnam – Vice.Chairman of SLRCS Matale Branch, Mr. E. Hulangamuwa, Mr. Ruwan Rathnayake – the Branch Executive Officer of Matale Branch, Mr.Kumar Weerarathe, Divisional Secretary of Wilgamuwa, Asst. Director Planning, Grama Niladari & the District Officers partipated in the event.