Moving Forward: Addressing CKDu
La Isla Network and Ingenio San Antonio have joined forces to address Chronic Kidney Disease of undetermined (CKDu) cause.
CKDu is a public health problem in Central America and Mexico and is also affecting thousands of workers in several industries worldwide. Though the causes of this epidemic require further research, we believe proactive intervention is justified wherever and whenever possible using the best available information.
We have named our collaboration the ADELANTE INITIATIVE. Our goals are to:
1. Establish, implement, and evaluate best practices in the workplace regarding occupational safety and health of field workers.
2. Promote public and private policies to create the most efficient and responsive environments that can provide best outcomes for the workforce, their communities, and industry.
3. Identify and implement programs and treatments for improved access to quality care for affected communities.
The ADELANTE INITITATIVE will coordinate efforts and resources to promote further scientific research and health initiatives throughout Mesoamerica and we hope what we achieve is applicable worldwide.
To demonstrate our commitment to work together on CKDu we are beginning work immediately on a pilot project. This project will develop a systematized labor intervention program for cane cutters, which could be replicated in the region and implemented in other areas of work in the cane industry (e.g. irrigation, seed cutters, etc.). As a result, training materials and support tools will be obtained for a replicable and scalable intervention system focused on water, rest and shade provision, as well as limiting other exposures that put workers at risk. As further data on etiology of CKDu becomes available we will continue to improve our worker health protections.
“At La Isla Network we welcome this opportunity to collaborate with Ingenio San Antonio, whose current work practices are a testimony to their commitment to address CKDu and an example for the sugar sector worldwide,” said Jason Glaser, CEO of La Isla Network. “Both of our teams have thought systematically about preventing risks to the health of workers and have implemented programs we will continue to improve together and make available to all who wish to protect their workforce.”
“We invite other sugar mills, to join this initiative as we work together to establish the best possible labor standards in the fight against chronic kidney disease,” Glaser said. “Only by joining forces, and looking forward, will we be able to better understand and end this disease.”
“No one has done more to draw the attention of international public opinion to the impacts of Chronic Kidney Disease than La Isla Network. Its international recognition, its capacity for association with various institutions and its WE Program have positioned it as an ideal partner for this ambitious initiative. Together we will be able to convene other mills, financial institutions, scientific institutions and anyone who wants to be part of the solution to end this scourge once and for all.” said Ricardo Barrios, CEO of Nicaragua Sugar Estates Limited, owner of Ingenio San Antonio.
The La Isla Network (LIN) is an international NGO that has led research and public policies working at the intersection of public health and human rights to globally address an epidemic disease, chronic kidney disease of undetermined causes (CKDu), and its regional presentation, Mesoamerican Nephropathy (MeN), among rural workers in Latin America. LIN has implemented internationally recognized occupational health programs to improve working conditions and prevention of heat stress, and to measure the effectiveness of the program in the mitigation of Mesoamerican Nephropathy. LIN has also participated in a number of community support and research initiatives related to CKDu and MeN.
Nicaragua Sugar Estates, owner of Ingenio San Antonio (ISA), was established in 1890, in more than 125 years of operations as a leading company in Central America has always had the culture and commitment to implement the best practices and technology available in the Sugar Industry, and has been committed to Social, Economic Development and Environmental Sustainability. Since 1992, ISA has been actively engaged in supporting initiatives to raise awareness on the topic of Mesoamerican Nephropathy (MeN), to provide third parties with a database of reports on MeN and to communicate the efforts made by ISA to help to discover the causes, help those affected by the disease and prevent future cases. Also, to show the impact that ISA has had over the years with its CSR practices, focusing on the welfare of its workers. ISA has been recognized as a leader in the production of sugar, molasses and renewable energy in Central America. ISA’s processes are Certified: ISO9001, FSSC22000 (Food Safety System Certification), OK KOSHER., ISCC (International System Certification & Carbon) and OHSAS 18001 (Occupational Health and Safety Systems). Recently ISA has been certified BONSUCRO. BONSUCRO is an international not-for-profit, multi stakeholder organization that promotes sustainable sugar cane and their certification qualify the sugarcane biofuels producers, sugarcane mills and processors within the framework of the sustainability targets set by the Renewable Energy Directive.