Social impact of high incidence of kidney stones: a study of coastal villages in Junagadh (Gujarat)

The study aims at understanding the socioeconomic impacts of prevalence of kidney stones in the region and concludes that the problem incurred high social cost and need immediate attention

This study from the coastal villages of Junagadh, Gujarat by Carewater aims at estimating the prevalence of kidney stones in the region and understand its varied socioeconomic impacts in terms of expenses incurred in treatment, procuring good quality water and loss of wages due to inability to work. In Junagadh district of Saurashtra, intrusion of seawater has increased from 3 to 12 kms during the last three decades and more than 130 thousand hectares (about 15 percent) of the total area of Junagadh has been affected by salinity.

Seawater intrusion has changed the water quality in Junagadh, contaminating it with excess salinity and different elements such as chloride, calcium, magnesium and sodium. This has led to prevalence of several health hazards in the region namely kidney stones, hypertension and skin diseases. For example, urologists of Junagadh estimate that about 6 percent of district population suffers from kidney stones. Medical practitioners say that etiology (the study of the causes of diseases) of ailments such as hypertension, skin diseases and kidney stone include many aspects and not just increase in salinity. One of the major reasons for kidney stones, however, is the high concentration of calcium in drinking water.

Based on a discussion with some urologists, five leading symptoms were identified to estimate the prevalence of kidney stones in the five selected study villages of saline area of Mangrol taluka and two control villages from non-saline area of Maliya taluka. A census of these villages revealed that 7.9 percent of the population in fully saline villages and 3.2 percent in non-saline villages had at least one of the five symptoms. The combination of two key symptoms (signifying a definite presence of Kidney stones) was found among 4.4 percent population of the saline villages and 2.0 percent in the non-saline villages.

The average amount of TDS and Calcium found in saline villages was 2,462 mg/litre and 296 mg/litre respectively, far beyond the maximum permissible limits prescribed by ISI (500 mg/litre for TDS and 75 mg/litre for Calcium). The corresponding figures in non-saline villages were 345 mg/litre and 52 mg/litre respectively.

In the saline villages, the average treatment expense incurred by an affected person was Rs 5,790 and average wage loss was Rs 3,520. Also, 80 percent of kidney stone cases have a chance of recurrence, raising the expenses incurred on treatment even further. The study concluded that, given the high social costs incurred, the problem of kidney stones, deserved immediate attention from the concerned authorities.

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