Las dificultades en el acceso al tratamiento para personas infectadas con Trypanosoma cruzi en México

Treatment Access Barriers for Trypanosoma cruzi–Infected Patients in Mexico


[This post was written by Janine M. Ramsey, researcher and professor at the Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública in Mexico and Alba Valdez-Tah, anthropologist and doctoral student]


In Mexico, an estimated 1 to 2 million people are infected with Trypanosoma cruzi and approximately 650,000 of these have chronic Chagas disease. These people, however, face serious barriers to health care access in Mexico, including a lack of familiarity with the disease and its diagnosis and treatment among medical practitioners, as well as the absence of marketing authorisation for the drugs used to treat the disease due to their exclusion from the national formulary list.

Access to health care and medical treatment is a basic human right, guaranteed by Mexican health legislation. Although the health system is obliged to procure the drugs needed to treat all registered cases of disease, only one of 32 Mexican states actually does this in the case of Chagas disease. This omission is one of the clearest indicators of the inequitable treatment of these patients in Mexico, where Chagas disease is neglected compared to other diseases that are less prevalent but carry more social and political weight, such as HIV-AIDS.

Treatment at any stage of Chagas disease will attenuate the damaging effects and slow the progress of this parasitic infection, improving patient quality of life. However, if diagnosed during the acute, early phase, the disease can be cured. This inequitable access to treatment has an even greater impact in rural populations, where the neglect of Chagas disease is exacerbated by many other deficiencies in health care.

In the long term, the economic and social cost of neglecting the problem of Chagas disease will always be higher for both society and individuals than the cost of prompt diagnosis and treatment. Patients who are not diagnosed or treated lose work time and many die in the most productive years of their lives. Access to medical treatment is a necessary condition for one of the most basic of human rights: the right to lead a healthy and decent life.

X Workshop on Chagas Disease

The city of Barcelona will host the 10th edition of the Workshop on Chagas Disease on March 6 2014.

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