A team of doctors led by Dr Joseph Bonventre from the Harvard Medical School visited the Borivanka village in Andhra’s Uddanam region in Srikakulam district on Saturday and met with victims of the kidney-disease that plagued the area.
Following an appeal made by Telugu actor-politician Pawan Kalyan during his visit to the US, the team visited Srikakulam to study this wide-spread problem in the region.
Before leaving to Borivanka, the team had met doctors from the Andhra Medical College, who had been studying the case.
The Harvard team interacted with almost 200 patients for two hours, besides collecting water and other samples, the local media reported.
Speaking to the media, Joseph said, “We are learning and studying the prevalence of the disease. We also need new biomarkers to detect the disease at the early stage."
"The increasing CKD prevalence is a global phenomenon. We want to develop treatment strategies for the patients and find the root cause of the disease to prevent future cases. Even though it may not happen overnight or in a year, we are hopeful of arriving at a definite root cause," he was quoted as saying.
According to The New Indian Express, Jana Sena chief Pawan Kalyan will reach Visakhapatnam and meet the Harvard team at the ‘Medical symposium on Uddanam Chronic Kidney Disease’ programme to be held in Vizag on Sunday.
The actor-politician will leave for Vijayawada on Monday to meet Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on the same day, the report adds.
Pawan Kalyan had earlier met the victims of the kidney diseases and had also questioned the Andhra Pradesh government’s inaction on the issue.
He lamented that the successive governments could not address the issue properly and stated that lakhs of people were suffering due to the disease.
The disease is also known as ‘Uddanam Nephropathy’, and first surfaced in the 1990s.
In 2011, a group of researchers who studied the drinking water sources of these villages found that the presence of phenols and mercury in drinking water was very high and declared that these waters are found not suitable for potable purposes."
However, they could determine if the water was reason behind the disease.
As of 2015, it was estimated that more than 4,500 people had died in the last ten years, and around 34,000 people were suffering from kidney diseases in this area alone.
Subsequently, in 2016, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) along with researchers of Harvard University, Andhra Medical College, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and NTR University of Health Sciences began their study.
The study yielded in saying that there were excessive levels of silica in water. However, the study could not continue due to fund crunch, The Times of India reported.
According to the World Health Organization, this is one of the three regions in the world with the highest concentration of chronic kidney diseases (CKD) after Sri Lanka and Nicaragua.