Associated Press writer Filadelfo Aleman reported this story in Chichigalpa, Nicaragua, and Michael Weissenstein reported from Mexico City. AP writers Marcos Aleman in Bajo Lempa, El Salvador, and Romina Ruiz-Goiriena in Guatemala City contributed to this report.
The article (in part) is here below:
A mysterious epidemic is devastating the Pacific coast of Central America, killing more than 24,000 people in El Salvador and Nicaragua since 2000 and striking thousands of others with chronic kidney disease at rates unseen virtually anywhere else. Scientists say they have received reports of the phenomenon as far north as southern Mexico and as far south as Panama.
Last year it reached the point where El Salvador's health minister, Dr. Maria Isabel Rodriguez, appealed for international help, saying the epidemic was undermining health systems. "This is a disease that comes with no warning, and when they find it, it's too late,"
Many of the victims were manual laborers or worked in sugar cane fields that cover much of the coastal lowlands. Patients, local doctors and activists say they believe the culprit lurks among the agricultural chemicals workers have used for years with virtually none of the protections required in more developed countries. But a growing body of evidence supports a more complicated and counterintuitive hypothesis.
The roots of the epidemic, scientists say, appear to lie in the grueling nature of the work performed by its victims, including construction workers, miners and others who labor hour after hour without enough water in blazing temperatures, pushing their bodies through repeated bouts of extreme dehydration and heat stress for years on end. Many start as young as 10. The punishing routine appears to be a key part of some previously unknown trigger of chronic kidney disease, which is normally caused by diabetes and high-blood pressure, maladies absent in most of the patients in Central America.
In Nicaragua, the number of annual deaths from chronic kidney disease more than doubled in a decade, from 466 in 2000 to 1,047 in 2010, according to the Pan American Health Organization, a regional arm of the World Health Organization.
In El Salvador, the agency reported a similar jump, from 1,282 in 2000 to 2,181 in 2010.
Despite the growing consensus among international experts, Elsy Brizuela, a doctor who works with an El Salvadoran project to treat workers and research the epidemic, discounts the dehydration theory and insists "the common factor is exposure to herbicides and poisons."
End of article.
So here we have a major killer. And from previous posts you have heard a little about the health care resources here - access to and limitations of. I don't know what the solution is. It would take the cooperation of many: big business, little business, governmental regulations in place and enforced for safety and accountability, the health care system, individual as well as company owned farming practices...
I just can't imagine changes happening any time soon. And in the meantime, thousands are suffering and dying a painful death.
Can I have prayers for the people please?