Managing kidney disease
The recent story of a young female who died due to the non
availability of a kidney donor in Sri Lanka compels us to focus on the
issue of the management of kidney disease in Sri Lanka.
The young woman got her famous singer to play the song she loved
prior to her death. While we need to appreciate the freedom of the press
to discuss the kidney transplant business involving Indian citizens in
Sri Lanka, it is equally important to address the issue of kidney
patients in Sri Lanka.
The government has taken many remedial measures to provide relief to
1500 kidney patients who need dialysis. There was a news report that
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe requested the Dutch Prime Minister
to provide assistance to provide relief to kidney patients in Sri Lanka.
While these laudable efforts continue, it is also important that
institutes involved in fundamental research gets involved actively in
genetic research on kidney disease.
An elderly patient undergoing dialysis
The research in genetics need to study and identify genetic
correlations with kidney affected patients.
This type of research is common in advanced economies such as the
They research as to whether any particular ethnic group is more
vulnerable to identified non communicable diseases.
It is not known why rural farmers in certain provinces are more
vulnerable to kidney disease than others. It is hypothesised that
continued exposure to certain types of chemicals in fertiliser causes
But the same fertiliser is used in other areas of the country where
the incidence of kidney disease is not as high. It is assured that soil
composition in the intervening areas is variable.
Sri Lanka needs a specific theory, with an acceptable level of
confidence on the factors that lead to kidney disease.
This is a challenge to scientists on fundamental medical research who
can examine the vulnerability of DNA strands to physical environmental
factor such as chemicals, soil conditions to kidney affliction.
It is known that research needs resources-financial, material and
human to conduct fundamental research and hours of their dedicated work
in laboratories do not attract the attention of the media and
Neither are they interested in such attention. It is not that
researchers only need to focus in such areas of interest. Sri Lanka
needs to embark on fundamental research based on genetics.
The hypotheses need to be framed whether any particular ethnic or
geographical community whose DNA strands react to chemicals used in
fertiliser or soil conditions or whether water consumed affects them
These are research questions that fundamental researchers need to
formulate. The Ministry of Health can search for them and provide
There may be ongoing research in this area already but such important
research should be part of a national effort and not merely work done in
If there is a difficulty to allocate resources, there are several
endowments which can be approached for funding for substantial research
effort. The media can play an important role in this effort.