[A Chagas Coalition's action for the International Women's Day]
She had the voice and face of a woman. In fact, it was the face of a girl, with a Latin American accent. Her name was Berenice, and she was from Brazil. In 1909, she became the first person to ever be diagnosed with Chagas disease. Although this infection affects people of all genders and ages, the possibility of eliminating Chagas disease altogether—could we do so by 2030?—depends on the voices and faces of countless committed women.
On the occasion of 8 March—International Women’s Day—eight women representing different spheres of activity surrounding Chagas disease have shared their messages with us. They include women directly affected by the disease, as well as family members, scientists, philanthropists, doctors, researchers, communicators, educators and social workers. Our audiovisual encounters with these women, each approximately one minute long, underscore the crucial role of women in controlling this disease, caring for the people affected by it, and eventually eliminating this global public health problem once and for all.
On the occasion of 8 March—International Women’s Day—eight women representing different spheres of activity surrounding Chagas disease have shared their messages with us. They include women directly affected by the disease, as well as family members, scientists, philanthropists, doctors, researchers, communicators, educators and social workers.
More than 100 years have passed since Berenice’s diagnosis. If we are now closer to the dream of eliminating Chagas disease, it is thanks to the voices and faces of women like these—most of them, to be sure, with Latin American accents.
President of the Mundo Sano Foundation. Argentina
“If a woman is treated for Chagas before she becomes pregnant, her baby will not be born with the disease. Let’s take care of women. Happy International Women’s Day to all of you.”
“Today, my daughter and I have completed our treatment.”
Educational Communication. CEADES Foundation. Bolivia
“I think of women as the cornerstone of health care, family and community. Most often, they are the ones who seek care for Chagas disease. Let us join hands and speak with one voice in this fight for access to health care.”
Science Teaching Group / CONICET. Argentina
“Today, I think of the many women who may have Chagas disease and for whom the possibility of vertical transmission adds to their fear and guilt, which are sometimes compounded by the biomedical discourse... But little by little, this is changing.”
María Elena Bottazzi
Co-director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas (USA). Honduran.
“In order for science to catalyse change in global health, we must trust and empower the next generations, especially women and girls.”
Elvira Idalia Hernández
Mother of a Chagas disease patient. Mexico.
International Federation of Associations of People Affected by Chagas Disease (FINDECHAGAS).
“Chagas disease has had a woman’s face and a woman’s name ever since Berenice was first diagnosed in Brazil. We know from experience that when a woman is committed to her health centre, her community and her family, the disease has a smaller chance of doing harm.”
María Jesús Pinazo
Physician. Director of the Chagas Initiative. ISGlobal
“Women affected by Chagas disease have acted as catalysts, promoting health care for themselves and their families on both sides of the ocean. They are the real protagonists of this model of health without borders.”
Chagas photographer. Uruguay
“Spaces are needed where women can come together to talk about chagas in their communities. They are the ones on the front line. The answers lie within them and this is where the answers are”.