Chagas disease
Chagas in the Americas

Treat Chagas now!

Chagas disease is a silent killer. Every year it takes the lives of an estimated 14,000 people, many of whom did not even know that they were suffering from the disease. In the endemic countries of South and Central America, 8 to 15 million people are infected, primarily adults. As a result, Chagas has a significant socioeconomic impact. It is the most prevalent parasitic disease in the Americas.

The Brazilian physician Carlos Chagas first described the disease more than 100 years ago, and although much progress has been made in medical research since, there is still no effective treatment for Chagas. It remains one of the most neglected and underfunded kinetoplastid diseases worldwide. Of the US$ 139 million used in 2008 to fund research and development (R&D) of kinetoplastids diseases, 41.5% was for leishmaniasis, 24.8% for sleeping sickness, and only 11.2% for Chagas*. Due to a lack of funding, millions of people infected do not have access to adequate treatment.

It is time to take urgent measures to scale up diagnosis, treatment, and patient access to medical care and to boost research and development. It is time for policy makers and donors to grant Chagas the attention it deserves.

In 2009, DNDi and its partners launched a campaign called “Wake up! Time to Treat Chagas Disease!” with the following goals:
• to raise awareness
• to break the silence surrounding the disease
• to boost R&D of new tools for the disease

As part of this campaign, DNDi, Médecins Sans Frontières, and the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Program in Global Health convened a one-day symposium on Chagas disease in Los Angeles in October 2009. Participants agreed that urgent measures and concrete solutions are greatly needed. That same month, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) adopted a resolution for the elimination of neglected diseases, including Chagas. This is an important step, but it needs to be reinforced with measures such as adopting a resolution on Chagas disease at the World Health Assembly in May 2010 in Geneva, and including funding for Chagas programmes in the U.S. Government’s Global Health Initiative.

Good efforts are undoubtedly underway. However, a lot more needs to be done for patients to finally have access to affordable, safe, and effective treatment.

*Neglected Diseases Research and Development: ‘New Times, New Trends’; G-Finder 2009, The George Institute forInternational Health

Find out all information in our special issue
by downloading this Pdf:

Published by Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative - 15 Chemin Louis-Dunant 1202 Geneva Switzerland - Photo credits: DNDi unless otherwise stated - Editor: Eva van Beek - Tel: +41 22 906 9230 - Fax: +41 22 906 9231 -