When Worlds Collide, by Nalaka Gunawardene

Text of my ‘When Worlds Collide’ column published in Ceylon Today Sunday newspaper on 19 August 2012

Much of Sri Lanka’s Dry Zone is currently grappling with a drought caused by the delayed Monsoon. This is a double whammy for residents in several districts who have been engulfed by another ‘slow emergency’ for nearly two decades: mass scale kidney failure affecting large numbers.

Diabetes or high blood pressure can lead to kidney failure. But beginning in the 1990s, thousands of people in the North Central Province (NCP) developed the condition without having either factor – mostly farmer men.

This puzzled doctors and other researchers who struggled to understand how and why. It was soon assigned an official name: Chronic Kidney Disease of unknown etiology (abbreviated as CKDu).

Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa Districts are ‘Ground Zero’ of this mysterious ailment for which there is no known cure. It has since spread to…

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