It is not just geographically that Srikakulam, the district on the Andhra Pradesh-Odisha border, is considered back of beyond. Even in terms of mindspace by successive governments, Srikakulam has not quite figured on the radar.
Pawan Kalyan and the team of social activists deserve credit for bringing the Uddanam kidney issue into the national limelight. Activists say over 30000 people in about 100 villages in Srikakulam district are afflicted by a chronic kidney disease known as Uddanam nephropathy and estimate that close to 5000 people have died in the last decade. The cases had first surfaced in the 1990s, with symptoms of hypertension and diabetes and is more common among agricultural workers. The needle of suspicion has pointed towards drinking water sources that were found to contain toxic phenols and mercury as well as pesticides. But the exact cause has remained a mystery.
With Pawan Kalyan upping the ante on Uddanam and putting pressure on the government, dialysis centres were set up and financial assistance provided to patients in this back of beyond region. Jaganmohan Reddy during his 3600 km long padyatra that culminated in Srikakulam, promised to set up a multi-speciality hospital to take care of the patients.
This is a promise Jagan has kept within 100 days of coming to power. On 3 September, orders were issued by the Health department of Andhra Pradesh, sanctioning Rs 50 crore to establish a 200-bed super speciality hospital with kidney research centre and dialysis unit in Palasa in Srikakulam district. The Administrative posts from that of Medical Superintendent to technicians were also sanctioned in the same order.
Once this hospital comes up, it will ensure patients do not need to travel till Srikakulam town or Visakhapatnam for treatment. The Jagan government also needs to invest in ensuring the tribals in this part of Srikakulam do not have to depend on polluted water, which is suspected to be one of the reasons for the high incidence of kidney ailments.
Categories: Andhra Pradesh