« Make healthy hydration the new norm »

Drinking water and CKD of unknown etiology in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka

By Dr. Amarasiri De Silva

Recorded on 23/07/2020

Kidney health


About the speaker

Dr. Amarasiri de Silva is a cultural / medical anthropologist (PhD in Anthropology, University of Connecticut, USA). His research has focused on health and illness in Sri Lanka. His fieldwork in Sri Lanka has been conducted in coastal fishing communities, in war-affected villages, in poor urban communities in Colombo, and among estate workers in tea plantations. 

His recent work has focused on chronic kidney disease among agricultural workers in the dry zone districts in Sri Lanka. The objective of his research and writings is to analyze the wide-ranging factors and forces that control and affect people’s health, in the context of the prevailing social, political and cultural systems.

About the talk

This work focuses on how people in the North Central Province (NCP) of Sri Lanka who are affected by endemic chronic kidney disease of unknown etiology (CKDu) explain drinking water as a factor causing the illness. 

Water in the NCP is closely associated with life and work of the people. The use of water for drinking and agricultural work has given rise to many social formations and cultural meanings. The research found that the issue of contaminated water as the cause of the disease raised by the local community and the cultural meaning of water have influenced the government policy, health programs, research agendas and the work of the media.