Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is a non-communicable disease that affects 10% of the global population to some degree, but goes undiagnosed till the later, more dangerous stages when symptoms appear. Numbers are rising disproportionately in Sri Lanka, especially of CKD of unknown etiology (CKDu – meaning no one knows the cause).
The Sri Lankan Government therefore set up a Presidential Task Force on CKDu in 2014. Although it was thought to affect mostly older, male agricultural workers who are chronically exposed to pesticides and other chemicals, there is now an increase in cases among children and females. With more than 15% of the population in the North Central and Uva Provinces affected, CKDu is now spreading to the Northern, Eastern, North Western, Central, and Southern Provinces.
To prepare the people in the Northern Province, the Lions’ Club has come forward to raise awareness and has begun a fund to help people. They also organized this public health awareness seminar on CKD at the District Secretariat Auditorium in Nallur on March 15, 2017.
Lion R. Rakini, Lions’ Club Nallur President delivered the welcome address and Lion Dr. V. Thiyagarajah, the 306 B1 Centennial District Governor, gave the keynote address and distributed informational leaflets.
We all have two kidneys that are about the size of your fist and lie in the middle of your back on either side of your spine. The kidneys’ main jobs are to filter our blood by removing waste products and extra water through urine. They help control blood pressure, make red blood cells, and maintain healthy bones. They also filter out waste products from our food, drink, medicines, and breakdowns from muscular activity.
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD):
In CKD, the kidneys are damaged and cannot complete their job. It happens over the course of 5 stages, with symptoms not showing until later stages. As the stages progress your blood pressure might increase, you might have low red blood cells (anemia), weak bones, a change in urine and its output, swelling feet, fatigue, and back pain. These can eventually lead to kidney failure and death. There has been a 134% increase in deaths resulting from CKD worldwide, with incidence of end stage renal disease more than doubled at the Teaching Hospital, Jaffna in 2012-2015. Dr. V.G. Rajeev (Regional Epidemiologist), standing in for Dr. Nanthakumar, Regional Director of Health Services, pointed out that deaths caused by non-communicable diseases (like heart disease, diabetes, and kidney disease) now surpass those by other non-communicable diseases (like dengue and malaria).
From left to right: Dr. R. Surenthirakumaran, Dr. T. Saththiyamoorthy, Mr. Alvapillai Siri, Dr. V. Thiyagarajah, Mr. V.Niranjan, Dr. V. Rajeev, Dr. Ranga Weerakkody
Dr. T. Peranantharajah, Consultant Physician for the Teaching Hospital gave a folksy, entertaining talk on prevention. Along with regular checkups with your doctor, a healthy lifestyle can prevent you from getting kidney diseases, manage your risk factors, and slow down the progression of kidney disease. He talked about the importance of managing what you put into your body. Poor eating habits, smoking, drinking alcohol, and obesity are all associated with kidney disease. Dr. Peranantharajah recommended a whole-grain (preferably vegetarian) diet, with lots of non-chemically treated fruits, nuts, legumes, and vegetables and less sodium, sugar, and red meats. He condemned white foods except milk. Another important lifestyle change is increasing our physical activity. As he says “Our society is plagued by an addiction to cereals: we start our day with cereals, then come home after work and plunk ourselves in front of our TV set watching mega-serials.”