Lionel Messi has other concerns apart from soccer, and Chagas disease is one of them. FC Barcelona's star soccer player has recorded a video message to support #Chagas Week, an initiative held in the Bolivian city of Cochabamba from 15-19 April, 2013. In the video, he stresses that now is the time to join forces to fight Chagas disease.
"As a soccer player, I know that teamwork, with ambition, brings results", says four-time winner of the FIFA Balon d'Or. In his message, he also mentions the documentary Chagas, a Silent Killer, by Argentinian film director and Chagas activist, Ricardo Preve. The documentary, shown for the first time this week on the Al-Jazeera network, follows the work of a group of doctors and nurses who make their way into the densely forested region of El Impenetrable in Argentina to treat patients with Chagas disease, many of whom are children.
(Watch the full documentary here)
This is not the first time that Lionel Messi has supported the worthy cause of combating Chagas disease. In 2012, through the foundation that bears his name and that of Fundació FC Barcelona, Messi took part in a promotional video that formed part of a campaign called "Beat the silence. Beat Chagas disease".
Chagas disease is caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi and is transmitted to humans by an insect known as the "kissing bug". Although the disease is believed to affect around 10 million people worldwide, it is still classified by the World Health Organization as a neglected tropical disease, and furthermore, it comes with a social stigma due to its association with poverty. If not treated in time, it can become chronic and cause serious heart and digestive problems. ISGlobal devotes much of its efforts to fight Chagas disease through its work in Bolivia, and at its headquarters in Barcelona. Its activities in this area include a clinical trial to test a new drug for treating the disease.