- On World Chagas Day, people affected by Chagas disease ask the international community for comprehensive care for this neglected disease
- Estimates indicate that Chagas affects more than 6 million people and causes 7,000 deaths per year
The International Federation of Associations of People Affected by Chagas Disease (FINDECHAGAS) called for more comprehensive action and increased awareness to end the silent Chagas pandemic, as it marks this year the second World Chagas Disease Day, approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2019. FINDECHAGAS released the following statement:
‘Faced with the difficulties imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, people affected by Chagas, as well as other neglected diseases, have been perceived to be more vulnerable, both because of our state of health and exposure to the new pandemic. In addition, health care programmes have reduced their ability to serve us due to efforts made in response to the pandemic.
‘Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, we must remember that people affected by Chagas suffer from one of the most neglected diseases on Earth. This new World Chagas Day is an important opportunity to draw attention to the disease and, above all, to remember that the care we need must be comprehensive.
‘The complexity of this problem requires different approaches, in addition to integrating Chagas prevention, attention, control, and surveillance into the regular activities of the health systems of our countries.
‘For this reason, we consider it very important that Chagas is part of maternal and child health control activities, but also to increase the training and awareness of professionals working in the health-care facilities closest to the rural and urban communities most affected by the disease in its diverse forms, both in endemic and non-endemic countries.
‘Chagas disease can cause very serious complications if it is not diagnosed and treated early. It can impact the ability of affected people to lead a healthy professional, social, and family life, and is also a cause of stigmatization. For all these reasons, advances in the care of people with Chagas disease will not be achieved through a single action or only the biomedical component, but by integrating all the necessary actions (intersectoral and interdisciplinary) so that we may no longer be underserved.
‘Every day, those affected by Chagas experience the difficulties that fighting this disease brings. So, count on us. We believe that the tools of control, diagnosis, and treatment can improve our quality of life and facilitate our struggle, as long as they are adapted to the contexts in which we live. That is why the coffee brown of the Earth and the green of hope are the colors that we choose to represent ourselves in the world.
‘If we are to achieve the goals of eliminating the disease as a public health problem by 2030, as approved by WHO member countries, all we need is your attention.’
FINDECHAGAS is formed by associations from various parts of the world:
- Argentina: (3) ENTRE RÍOS UNIDOS FRENTE AL CHAGAS/ CHAGAS DISEASE ALIANCE/ ASOCIACIÓN DE BAHÍA BLANCA ARG.
- Bolivia: Cochabamba e Aiquile (4) CORAZONES UNIDOS POR EL CHAGAS/ Santa Cruz-ASSAMUCH/ASOCIACIÓN DE CHUQUISACA
- Brazil: (4) ACHAGRASP, ASSOCIAÇÃO RIO CHAGAS, APDCIM, ACCAMP
- Colombia: (1) ASOCHAGAS.
- Spain: (3) BARCELONA-ASAPECHA, MURCIA-ASAPECHAMUR, VALENCIA-ACHACOVA
- France: (1) ASAFRANC
- USA: Virginia (1) LASOCHA.
- Italy: Bergamo (1) AILMAC.
- Mexico: Xalapa. Ver. (1) AMEPACH.
- Switzerland: Geneva (1) ASWISSCHAGAS
Photo credit: Ana Ferreira-DNDi