My name is Eva. I am from Bolivia and a nurse by profession. I left my country some years ago with the dream of doing graduate studies and using my training to contribute to the Bolivian health system.
Chagas disease was causing a certain amount of fear among the Bolivians living here and among some health professionals because of the lack of information
The first thing I did when I arrived in Barcelona was to find out more about healthcare options in the city and in Spain in general. I was very surprised by the generalised access to healthcare in Spain because I was used to a totally different situation in my own country, where all medical care has to be paid by the patient.
When researching certain imported diseases that were starting to appear in Barcelona because of the huge diversity of the city’s immigrant population I found out that Chagas disease—an infection endemic in Latin American countries with a particularly high prevalence in Bolivia—was causing a certain amount of fear among the Bolivians living here and among some health professionals because of the lack of information about the disease. A relative came to me in tears because the doctors had "discovered" that she had Chagas disease.
For once and for all, I want to break the silence that has surrounded this disease by saying “LET’S SPREAD THE WORD” and "STOP CHAGAS DISEASE
One day I was out exercising when I came across an issue of a Latin American newspaper with information about Chagas disease and the addresses of international health centres offering a testing service for this silent disease.
Like every other immigrant, I first came to the Hospital Clínic Tropical Medicine Department (now the International Health Department) to be tested. I received a warm reception from Dr María Jesús Pinazo and her team, who provided me with quality medical care. The warmth of their welcome allayed my initial fears and gave me the confidence to return as often as I needed and to become a patient of the clinic.
For over a year now, I have been studying for my masters in International Health and Cooperation at the Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona and, at present, I am doing an internship at the Hospital Clínic International Health Department, the ISGlobal Chagas Initiative and the Global Chagas Disease Coalition. I am motivated by a desire to ensure that my compatriots have access to this clinic because, whether because of the constraints of their work or because they are afraid and dread the stress of being diagnosed with the parasitic infection, most of them never come to the hospital.
There is an urgent need to change people's attitude towards prevention
I want them all to have the same opportunity that I had to be diagnosed and treated. For once and for all, I want to break the silence that has surrounded this disease by saying together “LET’S SPREAD THE WORD” and "STOP CHAGAS DISEASE". I want us to eradicate this disease from our daily lives and enjoy a better quality of life. We will know the problems facing someone who is infected with the parasite and does not get tested or treated in time.
There is an urgent need to change people's attitude towards prevention and, above all, to create social awareness within the immigrant community about the need for timely treatment.
Barcelona’s Bolivian Community Spreads the Word About Chagas Disease