Kidney disease is caused when our kidneys are unable to perform their functions efficiently and kidney diseases affect several millions globally every year. Chronic kidney disease occurs when kidneys are damaged and their function is compromised for more than three months. This is a serious condition as patients may have no symptoms until the disease becomes incurable. One in every ten person worldwide is affected by chronic kidney disease regardless of their age. Diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney stones, tumors, toxic chemicals, smoking, obesity, genetic predisposition and family history of kidney diseases contribute to kidney damage.
Over the past two decades, a different form of kidney disease has been identified among Sri Lankans living in rural communities across North Central, Uva, North Western, Eastern, Southern, Central and Northern Provinces of the country. This disease is called ‘CKD unknown/uncertain aetiology’ (CKDu) as its root cause is unknown and expected to be environmental factors including exposure to kidney damaging pesticides, toxic metals, poor diet, and genetic susceptibility to kidney failure. World Health Organisation (WHO) states that approximately 15% of the population between 15 and 70 years living in Anuradhapura, Polonarruwa and Badulla districts are affected. It is predominantly observed in male paddy farmers and agricultural laborers with numbers increasing in women and children hence it is now considered as chronic agrochemical related kidney disease. This is gradually becoming a national burden and there is enormous potential for research in this particular area in Sri Lanka.