Unitaid Commemorates World Chagas Day With New Initiative To Prevent Mother-To-Child Transmission
World Chagas Day 2021

In commemoration of World Chagas Disease Day, Unitaid and the Brazilian Ministry of Health launched a $19 million initiative to expand access to affordable diagnostics and treatments for women and newborns in four Latin American countries where Chagas disease is endemic – Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, and Paraguay. 

Transmitted by the blood-sucking triatomine bug called Trypanosoma cruzi, Chagas disease kills 10,000 people annually. In Latin America, it kills more people than any other parasitic disease including malaria. 

But only 7% of people with Chagas are diagnosed and only 1% receive appropriate care. If left untreated, Chagas can cause serious heart and digestive complications.

Given that mother-to-child transmission is one of the key transmission pathways for the disease, vector control, active screening, and appropriate treatment options for women of childbearing age and their children represent crucial strategies to reducing new infections, said PAHO’s Director Carissa F. Etienne on Wednesday. 

“Chagas disease continues to generate much suffering and death for thousands of people in Latin America, especially in the poorer countries and among the most vulnerable populations,” she said at a press conference. “Mother-to-child transmission of Chagas can be prevented. We hope that this new global initiative will significantly advance efforts to ensure that every child in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia and Paraguay is born free of Chagas disease.”

The joint initiative will collaborate closely with regional and global partners, including the WHO and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

Read the Unitaid press release here.

Image Credits: Unitaid.

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