A team of professors from Harvard University Medical College is visiting the Uddanam region in Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh to study the high incidence of chronic kidney disease (CKD) in the area. The visit of Dr Joseph Bonventre, chief of Renal Division at Brigham Women’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School, and Venkata Sabbisetti, also from Harvard Medical School, was facilitated by Telugu actor K Pawan Kalyan. Demystifying the AilmentCalling this a health crisis requiring urgent medical attention, Dr Bonventre said they are hopeful of demystifying the ailment in coordination with other experts in India. He met almost 200 patients from 15 villages, and collected information such as the history of disease, food habits, drinking water sources, and pesticides used for their farmlands, according to the Times of India.The root cause as well as other issues pertaining to CKD have been baffling local and international scientists for several years now. A team from Harvard had earlier visited the region in 2014. In 2011 and 2014, researchers from various institutes, including Indian Council of Medical Research, Andhra University Medical College and NTR University for Health Sciences, found high levels of mercury in the groundwater that was consumed by people in the area.Polluted WaterThe wide prevalence of the ailment has been attributed to several possible causes, including high levels of silica in water, heat stress nephropathy and gene mutations. “About 15% patients were found to have higher creatinine levels during the recent tests conducted by the state government this year in Uddanam region,” the publication quoted Dr T Ravi Raju, vice-chancellor of Dr NTR University of Health Sciences, who visited the area, as saying about the earlier studies conducted by King George Hospital and other institutions.Uddanam region, which includes almost 100 villages, has been in the news since early 1990s for witnessing the high prevalence of renal failure, many of them fatal. About 4,500 people have died due to kidney ailments in this region since 2005, according to Andhra University Medical College, the Indian Express reported.Free TreatmentIn January this year, Pawan Kalyan’s efforts had prompted the Andhra Pradesh government to announce that government hospitals would give free dialysis and medicines, and arrange for free transport of nephropathy patients in Uddanam. The Jana Sena Party leader had, during a tour of the area earlier this year, promised people that he would organise an expert team to study the issue. He also announced plans to set up a kidney research center in the area. Related ItemsAndhra PradeshHarvard UniversityKidney ailmentsLittle IndianephropathyRenal FailureUddanam
The Legislative Council meets Thursday to decide what to do about the Anchorage Legislative Information Office. A judge recently ruled the state lease for the building is illegal, because the state didn’t open it up to competitive bidding.Download AudioThe Anchorage Legislative Information Office, March 4, 2016. (Photo by Megan Ahleman)The council could decide tonight whether to buy the building, or to move the office to a smaller space in the state-owned Atwood Building.The LIO owners have offered to sell the building to the state for 37 million dollars. A consulting group says 29 million dollars would be similar to the cost of the Atwood Building space, while 35 and a half million would be competitive for the larger LIO space.Council chairman Kodiak Republican Senator Gary Stevens says the state will pay through July based on the terms of the invalidated lease.The council will meet in a private, executive session. It’s not clear whether it will make a final decision tonight.