01/20/2023, 16.16
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Pope Francis donates kidney drug for Sri Lankan patients

by Melani Manel Perera

The nuncio handed over supplies worth US$ 30,000 to Health Ministry for use in Sri Lankan hospitals. Caritas Sri Lanka contributed to identifying those in need in a country ravaged by a deep economic crisis. Every year 10,500 Sri Lankans die from kidney-related diseases without getting proper care.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis recently donated medicines to Sri Lanka, which is struggling with an unprecedented economic crisis.

Archbishop Brian Udaigwe, apostolic nuncio to Sri Lanka, handed over the supplies to Dr Asela Gunawardena, director general of Health Services at the Ministry of Health, in the presence of officials from the government and the Catholic Church.

Caritas Sri Lanka coordinated the delivery of this special aid, working with ministry officials to select the medical drug particularly needed in the country.

The chosen drug, tacrolimus, is crucial for the treatment of kidney disease. Supplies came from an Indian manufacturer for a little over 10 million Sri Lankan rupees (about US$ 30,000).

In delivering the donation, the apostolic nuncio said that the pope is concerned about the situation in the country and wants to personally help.

The pontiff “gets many requests from many countries and whatever he receives from benefactors are distributed to countries and communities who are in need,” Archbishop Udaigwe explained.

The apostolic nuncio also stressed the importance of integral human development, especially in the physical and spiritual spheres.

Sajith Silva, coordinator in charge of medical support project at Caritas Sri Lanka, spoke to AsiaNews about the donation.

“The medicines will be distributed among hospitals in Anuradhapura (Central Province), Karapitiy (Southern Province), Vavuniya (Northern Province),” he said. More will get the drugs, “based on the seriousness and the need” once the ministry makes the determination.

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a major and growing problem in Sri Lanka, causing considerable hardship, especially among the very poor.

According to statistics, 164,000 people were diagnosed with CKD in 2020, with as many as 10,500 deaths.

Some studies estimate that almost 10 per cent of Sri Lanka’s population is affected by kidney-related diseases. No definite cause has been identified.

Given the country’s ongoing crisis, it is hard to properly diagnose and provide adequate treatment, resulting in a high number of deaths.

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