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Andhra to set up institute for research on ‘Uddanam Nephropathy’


The Andhra Pradesh government on Monday agreed to set up a dedicated research centre in the state’s Uddanam region to find a solution to high prevalence of chronic kidney disease.

The institute will be supported by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), and 50 percent of the expenditure will be incurred by the state government.

The institute, to come up at a cost of Rs 15 crore, will be dedicated to kidney research and nephrology and include bio-banking, surveillance, DNA sequencing, patient care infrastructure, academic training and public education.

Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu made the announcement when a team of doctors from Harvard Medical School along with actor-politician Pawan Kalyan met him here.

The team, which visited the region in Srikakulam district on Saturday at the initiative taken by Pawan Kalyan, submitted its recommendations to the government.

Dr Joseph Bonventre, who led the team of doctors, recommended the setting up of a dedicated institute.

The Chief Minister immediately agreed and said, the state cabinet had already approved the setting up of the research institute at Srikakulam.

The team from Harvard studied the causes for high prevalence of chronic kidney disease or ‘Uddanam Nephropathy’, which has claimed many lives in the region during last 30 years.

Health officials, in their presentation, said the screening of over one lakh people in 176 villages show the prevalence rate of the disease is 13 percent, which is extremely high according to any standard.

Principal Secretary, Health, Medical and Family Welfare, Poonam Malakondaiah, said that 46 per cent of the patients are female and 54 per cent male. She said that each case is recorded and tracked electronically, so that the government can provide the required medical care and attention.

Three additional dialysis centres were opened in Uddanam, which now has the highest density of dialysis centres in the continent.

The state cabinet has approved pension of Rs 2,500 per month to all the patients in the state having CKD stage III, IV & V and those undergoing dialysis in government hospitals.

Naidu also announced that safe drinking water will be provided to the Uddanam area.

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The plight of Uddanam nephropathy


Uddanam nephropathy

The Uddanam region lies in Srikakulam district consists of the mandals of Kaviti, Sompeta, Kanchili, Itchapuram, Palasa and Vajrapukotturu, accounting for more than 100 villages in total. Pawan Kalyan’s visit to north coast already created a stir.

According to the WHO, Chronic kidney disease of unknown aetiology (CKDu) is a serious public health problem which appears to disproportionally affect poor, rural, farmers in hot climates. The kidney epidemic in the region is termed as Uddanam Nephropathy adopted at the 2013 World Congress of Nephrology.

Almost one third of population in Uddanam region suffers from CKDu and the number of patients undergoing dialysis in RIMS, Srikakulam has been increasing exponentially. The name Uddanam means a beautiful garden but now has become a death zone.

Dr. Ravi Raju, is associated as Principal Investigator with the ongoing epidemiological study on the prevalence of kidney diseases in North Coastal Districts of Andhra Pradesh, conducted in collaboration with Harvard University, USA. The Vice Chancellor of NTRUHS managed to draw the attention of Government and the media about the high prevalence of this chronic disease affecting the health and economy of the region.

The cause of the disease was unknown until 2016 and is not yet conclusive. Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) conducted the water and soil analyses of the region and attributed excessive levels of silica in the water to the kidney diseases. ICMR is carrying out a large-scale study to arrive at the final conclusion. The Government has been funding for the research of this non-communicable disease which is impacting individuals, families and the community, but no concrete facts have been established. However, the epidemic has gathered attention only in the past week especially after the documentary by Jana Sena and visit by the party president. Jana Sena leader’s thought provoking ultimatum garnered response from Chandra Babu Naidu who assured utmost attention to the patients.

Intense stigma is attached to the disease and the high costs of treatment push affected people into poverty, which leads to further social and health problems.The Arogyasri card holders manage to get the dialysis treatment. The Chief Minister today ordered implementation of safe drinking water in the region as part of NTR SujalaSravanthi. He also declared that patients who suffered kidney damages in Uddanam area would be given life-time pensions if needed. If the cause of the disease is confirmed, the government can take appropriate measures to stop it.The public health dimensions of the epidemic need much more attention from the government.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.



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