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Annual Report 2006

Sister City Health Team Heads to Quezalguaque

After more than six months of preparation, the Brookline Quezalguaque Sister City Project’s 7th summer health project moved closer to start-up on May 16th when Brookline physicians and Sister City Board members Peter Moyer and Kea van der Ziel along with medical and public health graduates students departed for Brookline’s Sister City Quezalguaque, Nicaragua.    


Pictured (L to R) are:  
BU Senior Research Fellow Ann Helwege, BU student Aisha Townes, Drs. Kea van der Ziel and Peter Moyer, BU students Mireile Levy, Gia Cicollo, Andrea Molina, & Sister City Medical Committee Chair Dr. Peter Stringham.  Not pictured: BU students Aja Griffin and Johanna Seidin.

Brookline physicians Drs. Moyer and van der Ziel will be in Quezalguaque for one week to help orient and start the summer projects. The 4 students that departed on May 16 will be joined by two colleagues in the next week and each will be in Quezalguaque for 6 to 8 weeks living with local host families.

Working with local health officials and using equipment donated by Nova Biomedical, the students will conduct a follow up study of persons found to have significant Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) in a 2008 study. This summer’s study was designed by the Sister City Medical Committee chaired by Brookline physician Dr. Peter Stringham with the assistance of BU Senior Research Fellow Ann Helwege, Drs. Moyer and van der Ziel and Dan Brooks and Bruce Cohen, both part of the BU School of Public Health team investigating the cause of the CKD epidemic.

The 2008 study found 20% of men in Quezalguaque over age 18 had stage 3 to 5 CKD. This compares with an expected rate in the U.S. of approximately 5% in a much older population. For men aged 30-41, the rates in Quezalguaque were 9 times the US rates and for men aged 42-56, the rates were 10 times the US rates.

Researchers do not know the cause or how quickly the disease progresses, and this study will help determine the course of the illness. 

Overall, more than 20,000 deaths have been attributed to the epidemic of CKD of unknown origin In Central America.  In Quezalguaque, CKD is the leading cause of death.

The summer health team will also work with officials in Quezalguaque to identify and map all drinking water sources in preparation for further water quality testing to assure the safety of the water supply.

Building on past efforts to address the issue of teen pregnancy, a problem identified by members of the Quezalguaque community, the summer students will also continue a project begun last summer that included discussions with local students and their teachers regarding sexual health, relationships and the training of peer counselors.

For more information about Sister City’s work in health care, please contact Dr. Peter Stringham, Chair, Medical/Health Committee at Peter.Stringham@gmail.com and stay tuned for more information about Sister City’s educational week in October.