The Tuunich project, Yucatecan hope against renal lithiasis
If it were a story of fictional events, it would surely cause a lot of distress, even if it was something imaginary.
However, it is not so. It is an overwhelming reality: Yucatan occupies the first national place in renal lithiasis, the formation of stones in the urinary tract. It is estimated that at least 10 percent of the Yucatecan population suffers from this condition, which not only affects the patient’s quality of life but, in extreme cases, can lead to truncating the productive stage of a person.
Even more serious is that stones have been found in the Yucatecan child population, even in three-year-old children.
And, contrary to what was thought until recently, water is not the main cause of these kidney formations. Recent findings confirm the influence of factors such as eating habits, lack of physical activity and genetics, among others.
In Yucatan, the Tuunich project has found a close relationship between the suffering and the Mayan heritage, as with other elements.
“Renal lithiasis is one of the most prevalent diseases in Yucatan. It’s a real public health problem, ”says Juan Pablo Flores Tapia, urologist of the Regional High Specialty Hospital of the Yucatan Peninsula (Hraepy) and coordinator of the Tuunich project (stone in Maya), which brings together a group of specialists in the diagnosis, treatment, education and research on stones that form in the kidneys.
According to public estimates, some 200,000 Yucatecans suffer from renal lithiasis and the number is increasing.
Dr. Flores Tapia explains that in the case of the High Specialty Regional Hospital, the main cause of kidney failure for many patients is no longer the stones.
The essence of Tuunich
Within this scenario, the Tuunich project plays an important role. It is a non-profit association that took its first steps at the initiative of a group of Hraepy urologists, who were later joined by other specialists.
The spirit of the project, given the high number of patients with lithiasis in the High Specialty Regional Hospital, was first to identify the causes of the phenomenon, investigate them and provide better treatment. They are financed with own resources and donations and also have the support of external groups. They have carried out diagnostic, detection and treatment work in the interior of the State with the help of professionals from Michigan State University (MSU), in the United States.
Central 9, the Journalism Research Unit of Grupo Megamedia, met with part of this group of experts to learn details of their work, which is already paying off. The meeting was attended by Dr. Flores Tapia and his urological colleagues Emmanuel Torre Horta, who coordinates the project outside the hospital area, and Mario Basulto Martínez, assigned to the area of urology at Hraepy, as well as PhD researchers in genetics Martha Menjívar Iraheta and Bárbara Peña, both from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).
The project had its origin in the observance of the high number of patients who come to the Hraepy due to alterations in the kidneys, mainly as a result of the stones. Then the interest arose to investigate more about this phenomenon and help alleviate its incidence and its effects on the population. And prevention was adopted as an important axis of the strategy.
“I have a patient today and I can take away the stone, but by statistics, we know that if nothing else is done, in five or ten years he will be condemned to recurrence,” says Dr. Torre Horta.
“This is what preventive measures come in.”
“We take preventive measures knowing the chemistry of the patient’s urine in order to know what their metabolic alteration is, to define how to correct, supplant or treat it. All urine disorders are susceptible to treatment. ”
The Tuunich project has jumped to the international level. Among his most recent interactions with the world, institutions was his visit, several weeks ago, to Michigan State University on the occasion of the celebration of the Consortium of Education and Research of the Americas. A delegation represented by urologists Flores Tapia and Torre Horta had the opportunity to share and exchange experiences with researchers of international stature, with the firm objective of weaving collaborative alliances in favor of the health of the Yucatecans.
One of the results of these alliances took shape at the beginning of last August. In collaboration with the University of Michigan, the Technological University of the South and the City Council of Peto, Tuunich conducted for the first time in Yucatan more than 700 interviews that covered medical, nutrition and lifestyle aspects among families from southern communities. He also practiced more than 400 renal ultrasounds, all with the aim of detecting people with kidney stones and identifying the risk factors associated with their development in the Yucatecan population.
In these works, it was confirmed that children also suffer from kidney stones. This reinforces the version, backed by scientific evidence, that genetics also influences the phenomenon, as well as other factors such as food and the environment, not just water as was originally believed.
In the next edition, we will discuss other angles of the Tuunich project work and its purposes. We will also offer the views of the experts in genetics and the other specialists.— ANGEL NOH ESTRADA
Source: diario de yucatan
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