Of the estimated 8 million people infected with Chagas disease worldwide, 99% have never received any treatment, either because they do not realise that they are infected or because they are unaware that the disease is treatable. A new campaign called “Spread the Word to Fight Chagas Disease” is being piloted to address this problem. The campaign provides information about the disease to Bolivian families living in Barcelona so that they can receive a diagnosis and, if necessary, treatment and follow-up.
“Spreading the word from one patient to another: it’s a simple idea that arose from our experience here in the International Health Department at the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona – ISGlobal,” commented Leonardo de la Torre, who coordinates the campaign with the support of Dr María Jesús Pinazo and Eva Muñoz Valda, a nurse who works with Chagas patients in the International Health Department. “Spread the Word to Fight Chagas Disease” encourages patients to tell friends and family members about the disease and let them know that they can visit a doctor. The aim of the campaign is to inform more people about Chagas disease and increase the number of those affected who are treated.
Since its launch in December, the campaign has held various events, including several talks organised in collaboration with local Bolivian associations. A Chagas disease information point has also been set up in the International Health Department at the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona – ISGlobal.
“People living with Chagas disease are asking to be heard,” commented Dr María Jesús Pinazo. “They’re asking to be heard and spreading the word after a long history of silence on the part of health and social services, researchers, and the politicians who control public budgets and make decisions,” added Leonardo de la Torre. It is estimated that between 68,000 and 123,000 people in Europe are infected with the Trypanosoma cruzi parasite. By 2009, however, only 4,290 cases had been reported.
The new campaign is an initiative of the Global Chagas Disease Coalition and the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal). It is supported by the Catalan Development Aid Agency (ACCD).
XII Workshop on Chagas DiseaseThe XII edition of the Chagas Workshop will gather international experts to discuss the latest advances in the diagnosis and treatment of the disease.