CEJ urges govt. to do more to detect kidney disease early

 By Dilanthi Jayamanne

The Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) yesterday urged the government to facilitate early detection tests for possible victims of the chronic kidney disease of unknown etiology (CKDu).

 Environmental Officer CEJ, Chalani Rubesinghe said that there was a pressing need for more awareness programmes and facilities for early detection of the disease.

 Issuing a statement to commemorate World Kidney Day today (13) Rubesinghe said that Ministries of Health, Water Supply and Drainage and Agriculture should also take steps to ensure better facilities for farming communities affected by CKDu.

 The CEJ Environmental Officer explained that a recent study conducted by it on ‘the wide spreading CKDu in Sri Lanka, its causes and public perception’  had revealed that the disease led to the inability of those who were affected- a majority being the bread winners of those families to engage in livelihood activities. The study had also revealed that the treatment for CKDu was also costly and that there were times that family members too were compelled to sacrifice towards helping the victim get treatment for the disease, Rubesinghe said.

 "Although the government has made available an allowance of approximately Rs. 500 to patients through welfare officers affiliated to Pradeshiya Sabhas, there are discrepancies in the victims receiving the monetary support", Rubesinghe said. It was paid to those whose income was below Rs. 3,000.

 Unfortunately, there were some patients who were not aware that there was an allowance while some were not eligible for it. The amount was only paid to those who had the advanced disease. In some cases the allowance was not adequate to even meet the travel expenses of the patient who at least had to go to hospital at least twice a month.

Executive Director CEJ, Hemantha Withanage stressed that the government should not wait till the CKDu spread further to take action.

Timely action should be taken to provide affected families with necessary support, he said.

 Meanwhile, the Health Ministry said that there were over 30,000 patients affected by the disease. Earlier cases had been reported only from certain areas such as the North Central and Uva provinces as well as a few other areas. However, CKDu was being reported from all parts of the country now, Withanage said.

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