Y-Vonne Hutchinson, La Isla Foundation Senior Director of Law and Human Rights, was impressed by the crowd’s reaction to her presentation at the annual American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting in Boston earlier this month.

“People were sort of shocked by the numbers,” Hutchinson said.

Every year, legal and public health professionals gather at the APHA Annual Meeting & Exposition, the largest annual gathering of public health professionals worldwide.

Hutchinson said the task of representing so much research in such a short presentation was daunting. “It’s hard to encapsulate everything that’s going on down there in 15 minutes. This disease cuts across legal issues of occupational illness, poor working conditions, access to medical care, poverty, and access to education, but I think the presentation did make people more aware, especially within the public health community.”


In February La Isla Foundation’s legal team produced an abstract proposal, which won Law Abstract Of The Year and earned Hutchinson the opportunity to present at the APHA conference.

The La Isla Foundation legal team developed the human rights study in hopes of untangling the complex rights issues seen on the ground. The presentation was based on findings from current research on working conditions of sugarcane workers in Western Nicaragua.

While conducting interviews for the pilot study, Purvi Patel, then-member of the legal team and current Chief Operating Officer, was surprised by what she observed. “While our legal team expected to find cane cutters working long hours in grueling conditions, the team was surprised by the extent of the impact. The survey was very comprehensive in researching issues related to work environment, health, disability, age, and compensation of workers.”

Given the fact that several of La Isla Foundation’s partners also presented on the CKDnT epidemic in Latin America, both in other panels and with poster sessions, Hutchinson believes the momentum of the APHA conference could carry forward to future efforts to end CKDnT. “These presentations could really put this disease on the map.”

La Isla Foundation is currently translating the pilot report into Spanish.