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CHRONIC KIDNEY DISEASE IN INDIA
Chronic kidney disease, or CKD, is a scourge of the rich world generally caused by diabetes, high blood pressure or obesity. An alternative form of CKD however, is finding it’s way into the developing world. Known as chronic kidney disease of non-traditional causes, or CKDnT, victims are mainly agricultural workers, low wage earners and rural folk. This growing epidemic is thought to be occupational and environmental, not lifestyle caused, and it’s creating an alarming new medical problem that doctors around the world are barely aware of, have not figured out the cause of or found a way to prevent it.
In Central America alone, more than 20,000 people have died or contracted this illness over the past two decades. Many similar cases in other countries like India, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica, and more, have highlighted the fact that this is a global epidemic. I recently traveled to southeast India with a team of researchers to the states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, to investigate if this illness is occurring there. Our findings indicated that not only does the illness exist, but also that it may go largely undetected. And often by the time it is diagnosed in a patient, it’s too late. Sufferers of the disease face a shortened life, unable to work or support their families and surviving only on dialysis.
While the Indian government and private doctors, clinics and hospitals are trying to expand the number and geographic scope of dialysis centers in the affected areas, it’s often inadequate. More troubling is the economic impact and stigma associated with this disease, often rendering a family helpless while trying to keep their loved one, often a man and the breadwinner, alive at all costs. We witnessed their children’s dreams of education dashed with the burdens of paying for dialysis, in turn often forcing them into work to support the family.
This series of images is not only meant to raise awareness, but is also a call to arms for researchers, doctors and scientists around the world to come together and find the cause, develop cures and find prevention measures for this devastating disease. To combat this global epidemic, action and research is required on a global level.