Sunday, June 14, 2015

Initial small changes to conditions in cane fields

In the Christian Science Monitor today, Whitney Eulich provides news of some initial attempts in El Salvador to change the working conditions in sugar cane fields as a way to combat chronic kidney disease and other work related illness:
While scientists and health organizations around the world work to identify the root causes, a handful of power brokers here – from a top businessman to government officials and community leaders – are starting to take action to reverse the trend, based on what they know. Masariego is part of the first scientific intervention among sugar cane workers aimed at determining if work-related conditions such as dehydration or heat stress play a part in chronic kidney disease (CKD). And the achingly simple changes being tested here could serve as a model for other employers and governments across Central America, helping to raise awareness of worker protection and human rights.   
“We need to do more research to find the causes, but meanwhile we can’t wait around for that research to happen before trying different interventions,” says Michael McClean, an environmental health professor at Boston University who is part of a research team that’s investigated CKD in Nicaragua.
Kidney disease has been killing off agricultural workers in Central America in alarming numbers without a firmly identified cause.    Research has pointed to both agricultural chemicals as well as the conditions under which workers toil.  Read the rest of the article here.

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