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Chagas Week: an Opportunity for In-depth Analysis of the Problem


It is no longer news that Chagas disease is now a global problem. The last 15 years have seen an exponential increase in the migration of people from Latin America to countries where the disease is not endemic. Consequently, the health systems of non-endemic countries such as Spain, where Chagas was virtually unknown before, have had to respond to this emergent public health problem.

The presence of patients with Chagas disease in parts of the world previously unaffected and a new awareness of fundamental gaps in the scientific management of the disease—for example, the lack of early markers of therapeutic response and of effective new drugs with fewer side effects—has motivated the international scientific community to rescue this neglected disease from scientific oblivion.

One recent project is the collaboration between ISGlobal and its research centre CRESIB in Barcelona and CEADES Health and Environment in Cochabamba, Bolivia. This partnership has resulted in the establishment of the Platform for the Integral Care of Adult Patients With Chagas Disease. This initiative, which is funded through an agreement with the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), responds to a need only partially covered by the National Chagas Program (PNCH) in Bolivia, a country where an estimated 20% of the population has chronic Chagas infection. Research teams in Barcelona benefit from the input from the Platform and joint action protocols and a transnational network of medical care have been established.

Medical care for patients with Chagas disease is not the Platform’s only activity. It also promotes high level research initiatives, such as the clinical trial of a new drug for the treatment of the disease (E1224), training activities, and exchange of knowledge between Spain and Bolivia.

The Chagas Week-Neglected Disease will be hosted in Cochabamba (Bolivia) from April 15 to April 19. This is one of the most important scientific and training activities in the brief history of the Platform. In addition to the Chagas Disease Update Symposium, other key events will be the COHEMI Symposium on Neglected Diseases and Migration (European Commission) and a meeting of the Chagas Disease Clinical Research Platform (the Drugs for neglected Diseases initiative). The organisation of this international event was supported by a number of other institutions, including the Mundo Sano Foundation, AECID and the Bolivian Ministry of Health and Sports through the PNCH.

Our hope is that the work undertaken during Chagas Week and the participation in this event of the world's experts in the subject will serve to update our current knowledge about this parasitic disease. The aim is not only to identify gaps that still exist in current research and the management of the disease, but also to lay the groundwork that will enable us to make a concerted effort to find solutions to this long-standing problem.