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SAN PEDRO ITZICAN, MEZCALA and the surrounding villages

Renal failure and malnutrion are widespread in this community

Over the years, many people have been diagnosed and many died from renal (kidney) disease.  Some are just young children - but most are just young adults (most seem to die around 23-34 years of age). 

During the pandemic, it was difficult to determine how many died of renal failure or Covid.  When renal patients got Covid, it was difficult for them to recover.  Poco a Poco purchased many oxygenators, respiratory meds, made masks, provided emergency and preventative services.

For many years the medical profession has been aware of the medical problems in San Pablo Itizcán, and the surrounding villages.

But the cause is not so simple.  The studies show that it's probably a combination of many factors, including genetics, malnutrition, chronic dehydration, pesticide contamination, and probably unclean drinking water. More information about the water issues are covered on this link.

The renal failure problem has begun to receive more media coverage, which will help changes to be made, but there is no "quick fix".  Expensive studies have been carried out but no real solutions or changes appear to have been made.

Other than clean drinking water, air pollution (thought to be caused by the local method of cooking with wood inside the homes), is another problem.  Poor families will burn anything they have available, which might include plastics and wet wood.  You can imagine the health affects of this...


There are also high traces of pesticides in the water and on local foliage. The local farmers can't afford expensive pesticides so these may be coming from elsewhere. 

Garbage is another problem.  Apart from the main roads in Mezcala, La Peña and San Pedro, other parts of the towns and other villages, do not get garbage pick up.  So everything eventually gets washed down to the lake, where the children are also collecting water to boil up for drinking water, and bathing in the lake, as few homes have running water.  Not all houses have toilets, and those that do are not necessarily hooked up to anything..

Poverty causes health problems too - malnutrition in particular.  Lack of the right foods and soda drinks can be a problem for young children and can cause kidney problems. It can be reversed early on - which is one of the reasons we started the Kids' Kitchens.










The figures above were taken in 2016 from test results on 300 local high school students.

Just from reading the statistics above, you can see that diet has a huge impact on health.  That is why we started the feeding the children a nutritious meal.
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Sadly, this little 8 month old boy, lost his mother to renal failure in September 2021, just a few months after she had been diagnosed and had started home dialysis.
In 2017, Doctor Felipe Lozano Kasten of the University of Guadalajara Center of Health Sciences did a study on the village of Agua Caliente.  It was completed in September 2017 but we have not been able to get the final detailed results.  Here is a YouTube excerpt:
The initial results of the study revealed that of the 300 preschool, primary and secondary students of Agua Caliente, 170 showed signs of renal damage.  This link explains some of the study results in 2017.
Of the 950 residents in the village of Agua Caliente, over 544 people were tested.  At that stage, 270 already had various stages of kidney failure. 77 were in stage 3, and 17 children were needing immediate help as they were at stage 5 of renal failure and needing dialysis immediately.  But these families cannot afford the expensive dialysis...

Many people go untreated for their medical conditions.  Renal problems are often not recognized until it's too late.  (Many people couldn't afford to pay for the drugs anyway and the nearest pharmacy is in Mezcala.)  Poco a Poco runs a medical office (in San Pedro) with a small stock of medical supplies, vitamins and supplements that can be dispensed as needed in emergency, but they are only able to cope with minor medical issues.
Over the years there have been promises of a local hospital being built, but that has not happened. Red Cross (Cruz Roja) in Chapala has built a dialysis clinic for renal patients:  but because of paperwork, as of May 2024, it still hasn't been able to open. Once it does open, that might be a cheaper alternative for people in the San Pedro area to travel to Chapala, rather than Guadalajara, for their dialysis treatments. 

In October 2022, another organization, the Lila K Foundation, completed blood and urine tests on 900 children and adults who come to the children's kitchens, and found 125 people with varying stages of kidney disease.  25 of those people needed immediate medical attention in order to survive.  Although further help was offered, many of these 25 people will do nothing about it and just accept it as their fate, because so many people die of this disease around them;  they cannot afford the medicines or dialysis and are scared to see doctors - despite our encouragement.

This is a sign posted outside the church in San Pedro in 2016:  to tell people not to drink the hot water (which is the local water source) and to avoid eating certain types of fish.  San Pedro is a fishing village - they eat whatever they catch and eat it, because they are hungry...

San Pedro Itzicán has the highest rate of childhood kidney disease per capita in the world.  Studies indicate that 40% of children in San Pedro, a village of about 7,000, have the disease or a precursor of the disease.  This progressive fatal disease often starts when a child is three or four years old and is usually asymptomatic. 

Symptoms such as puffiness, trouble concentrating, urinary incontinence, fatigue, anemia, and delayed development start to appear 5 to 10 years later. By the time these symptoms become apparent, the disease has advanced to a stage that dialysis is usually needed. Most who die of the disease in San Pedro are in their twenties and some are even younger. 

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