Tuesday, January 24, 2012 | Categories: Episodes
Something is killing the men of Central America. Along the pacific coast of Nicaragua and El Salvador the rate of kidney disease is alarmingly high and no one can figure out why. But the suspicion is that they are literally being worked to death.
Part Two of The Current
Mystery Disease in Central America
We began the program today with sounds of the village of La Isla, in the lowlands of rural western Nicaragua.
This is where Maudiel Martinez lives in one of a cluster of houses made of concrete and wood, with a cloth hanging as a door. And houses are close enough together that you can hear the radio playing at the neighbour's house, hear their children and their animals.
Maudiel Martinez is only 19 years old. But he's a very sick young man. He started working in the sugar cane fields when he was just 14. At age 17 he contracted a kidney disease that's killed many men across Central America.
Each year between 2005 and 2009, more than 2,800 men have died of kidney disease along the pacific coast of Central America. In Nicaragua, more men die of kidney disease than from HIV and diabetes combined. It's the second biggest killer of men in El Salvador.
We heard a from Carlos Orantes is a Nefrologist with El Salvador's Health Ministry. We caught up with him in Bajo Lempa, El Salvador, where he was treating patients at a rural health clinic.
The mystery kidney disease has gained international attention. At Boston University, researcher Daniel Brooks is part of a World Bank-funded project looking into the potential causes. He's poised to release some preliminary results that suggest this kidney disease epidemic in Latin America has something to do with people being over-worked and not getting enough water to drink.
We also heard from Catharina Wesseling. She is a Costa Rican epidemiologist at the National University in Heridia Costa Rica. She has been studying this disease for several years now, and joined us from her home in Costa Rica.
The Current would like to recognize the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and the Center for Public Integrity for its work gathering some of the material from Nicaragua and El Salvador, that we heard at the beginning of this story.
Sasha Chavkin and Ronnie Greene's article was also produced as part of this collaboration. Read it here.
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