The social formation of a medical enigma: an ethnographic pilot study of chronic kidney disease of unknown origin in Mexico


  • Dr Ciara Kierans

    University of Liverpool

Project summary

In Central America and parts of Mexico, there has been an unexplained increase and change in the aetiological profile of chronic kidney disease – a transformation repeatedly described as a ‘medical enigma’. Classified as chronic kidney disease of unknown origin (CKDu), the condition cannot be attributed to conventional causes. Instead, it has been linked to particular groups, such as young men, working in the agri-industries, mining, fishing and tanneries, often in sites of environmental concern.

This project aims to examine how knowledge of a ‘medical enigma’ is produced, to conduct an ethnographic scoping study and to generate an interdisciplinary research network. These objectives will provide the basis for further research in other Central American countries based on the lessons learned in the pilot.