In 2015, DNDi launched an initiative to increase access to diagnosis and treatment to Chagas disease in close collaboration with local, regional, and national partners through pilot projects in several endemic countries.

In August 2017, DNDi‘s efforts received a considerable boost when pharmaceutical company Insud, with DNDi’s support, received a priority review voucher as a result of registering benznidazole for the treatment of Chagas disease with the US FDA.

The approach was first implemented in Colombia in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Protection, targeting a highly endemic area for Chagas disease. The new patient-centred approach involves training health care staff, simplifying, and accelerating the procedure for diagnosis, and decentralizing treatment to ensure it is available closer to where patients live. In the two communities where the pilot was first implemented, 384 people were tested for Chagas disease in the first year, a ten-fold increase over the previous year. Wait times for diagnostic confirmation were reduced from an average of 364 to just 17 days, and there was a four-fold increase in the number of patients starting etiological treatment. In 2018, the Colombian project expanded to additional communities.

The positive experience and promising results of the Colombia project led to the development of a collaborative project in the U.S. focused on advancing public health research on Chagas disease, including the first large-scale prevalence study in a major U.S. city in 2017.

Projects were also launched along the same model in Guatemala with local and international partners, and in Brazil in partnership with the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation. Seminars were held in Jutiapa, Guatemala, and in Rio de Janeiro and Recife, Brazil to identify the main barriers and develop actions to strengthen disease control and treatment access.

Project updates

2019

The Chagas Treatment Access project continued to consolidate and expand its activities in the Latin American region in 2019, working with partners in Colombia, Guatemala, Brazil and, since late 2019, Mexico. In Colombia, after two years since the first pilot projects started, the number of people screened in the municipalities of Támara and Nunchía in Casanare state increased from 25 in 2017 to 400 per year in 2019. For those who had access to diagnostic testing, the wait time to receive their results was reduced on average from one year to less than one month. Approximately 20% of people who had access to diagnosis during the two-year period tested positive for the disease.

Ending the neglect of Chagas in Colombia

Bringing Chagas disease care to a remote Colombian region