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Unexplained Kidney Disease Affecting Rural Workers Across Central America, PRI’s ‘The World’ Reports

PRI’s “The World” reports on an epidemic of an unexplained kidney disease that is affecting rural workers across Central America, writing, “[I]t’s the second biggest cause of death among men in El Salvador, and in Nicaragua it’s a bigger killer of men than HIV and diabetes combined,” and “the latest theory is that the victims are literally working themselves to death.” According to the news service, “El Salvador’s health minister recently called on the international community for help,” stating that “the epidemic is ‘wasting away our populations.'”

“‘It is important that the chronic kidney disease (CKD) afflicting thousands of rural workers in Central America be recognized as what it is — a major epidemic with a tremendous population impact,’ says Victor Penchaszadeh, a clinical epidemiologist at Columbia University in the U.S.” and a consultant to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), according to The World. The news service discusses possible explanations for the illness, such as exposure to farm chemicals and working long hours in extreme heat, and the consequences for workers who are let go after becoming ill but have no other alternatives for work (Sheehy, 12/12).