Sri Lankan student launches awareness program on kidney disease

Zainab Ifthikar, a 16-year-old student from Bangladesh International School, with Azim Thassim, ambassador of Sri Lanka, at a presentation on renal diseases held at the Sri Lankan Embassy in Riyadh. (AN photo)
Updated 14 March 2017
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Sri Lankan student launches awareness program on kidney disease

RIYADH: A 16-year-old Sri Lankan student based in Riyadh has launched an awareness program on acute kidney diseases in parts of her native country.
Zainab Ifthikar, who attends the English section of Bangladesh International School, founded a charitable foundation dubbed MEI (Motivation Encouragement and Inspiration) in Colombo.
She told Arab News on Friday that she wants to create awareness among the Sri Lankan community in the Kingdom about the strong prevalence of renal diseases in the central part of Sri Lanka due to the drinking water in these areas.
Ifthikar said that some 13 percent of the population in these areas suffers from kidney diseases, and more than 90 percent of those are from farming villages.
Ifthikar, who has traveled widely in central Sri Lanka, said the disease is mostly prevalent in farming villages because farmers use agrochemicals for cultivation.
“The chemicals used for fertilization get mixed with the well water, and people consume that water,” she said.
The young activist said that she is interested in taking preventive as well as curative measures to address the issue. She called upon philanthropists to join her to achieve her goal of supplying water filters to these areas, which will enable residents to drink purified water.
She would also like to help dialysis patients who patronize hospitals for their weekly treatment.
Ifthikar, who also wrote the book “Poverty is not Passivity,” has personally witnessed the sufferings of the poor, and had made a genuine effort to bring about measures that could help those in need.
“I started feeling the plight of the poor when I was 13 years old,” Ifthikar told Arab News. She said that such a sincere feeling toward the poor prompted her to document her thoughts in a book.
She has since been working tirelessly to spread awareness on poverty, and how families in need could be helped.
“I have always had a profound love for three things in my life: One is my motherland Sri Lanka, the other is philanthropy, and the third is writing,” said Ifthikar.
“Many of us live a life of luxury, with cars, clothes, fast food and brands making a large part of it; whilst there are thousands of people out there who neither have a morsel a day to fill their stomachs, nor enough hope to fill their hearts.”
“Nowadays, poverty is not only hunger and the lack of shelter; it has also become inequality, injustice, illiteracy, violence, and ignorance. Poverty is the ultimate hub to all the complications that the world faces.”


Saudi Environment Ministry celebrates Arab Agriculture Day

Smart agriculture depends on good agricultural systems that are capable of increasing productivity and enhancing quality without weakening natural resources. (SPA)
Updated 26 September 2018
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Saudi Environment Ministry celebrates Arab Agriculture Day

  • The ministry drew up the Kingdom’s policy for organic agriculture, which was approved by the Council of Ministers

JEDDAH: Ways of employing smart agriculture techniques to increase efficiency and productivity and achieve food security will be the focus of a celebration organized by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture on Arab Agriculture Day on Thursday Sept. 27.
The event in Riyadh is being held in parallel with the official celebration held at the headquarters of the Arab Organization for Agricultural Development in Khartoum, Sudan.
“Smart Agriculture: A Better Future for Arab Agriculture” will be hosted by the Undersecretary of the Environment Ministry Ahmed Al-Ayedah, in the presence of the directors of all branches of the ministry in the different regions and the representatives of agriculture faculties in the universities as well as the board of directors of the cooperative societies, as well as specialists involved in smart agriculture.
The ceremony, which will be held in the main hall of the National Center for Agricultural and Livestock Research in Riyadh, will honor a number of prominent farmers in the field of smart agriculture, and encourage investors to come forward.
Al-Ayedah said that smart agriculture contributes to the provision of safe and pollution-free food, limiting the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides that are harmful to the health and environment. It also helps to overcome the impact of climate change.
He added that smart agriculture depends on good agricultural systems that are capable of increasing productivity and enhancing quality without weakening natural resources.
Ayedah added that the ministry has taken a lead in developing smart farming technology through establishing the organic agriculture development project and the Saudi Society for Organic Agriculture and the Organic Agriculture Research Center.
The ministry drew up the Kingdom’s policy for organic agriculture, which was approved by the Council of Ministers. This strategy has been a great resource for farmers providing advice for those wanting to switch to organic methods. It has allocated $200 million (SR750 million) for this initiative.