Soldeu (Andorra), April 21 abr (EFE).- Last Wednesday, Ibero-America confirmed its support for a new initiative to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of Chagas, a disease endemic to Latin America, but that is progressively expanding to diverse areas of the USA, Europe, Canada, Japan, and Australia.
The Ibero-American initiative on Congenital Chagas to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of the disease is one of the four new cooperation proposals approved in the framework of the XXVII Ibero-American Summit, held in Andorra, according to a statement released last Wednesday by the Ibero-American General Secretariat (Segib).
The proposal, which was put forward by the Governments of Argentina and Brazil, with the promotion of Mundo Sano, an Argentine Foundation, is also supported by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), the Evandro Chagas Institute of Brazil, and the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal).
“This is an important step forward because it contributes to the visibility of this disease and its inclusion on the global agenda: in addition, it complements the efforts being made in this sense by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), along with other key stakeholders”, declared in a statement Silvia Gold, president of Mundo Sano, a foundation that works to reduce the impact of neglected diseases.
According to the experts, Chagas disease, caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, can be cured if treated shortly after infection.
However, in the chronic stage, the disease can cause heart complications or digestive or neurological alterations, or both, and may lead to sudden death over time; therefore, disease prevention has become a priority.
According to the PAHO, Chagas disease, of rural origin but with an increasing urban presence, is transmitted by a vector in 80% of the cases (through the faeces or urine of several types of bugs), but also through blood transfusions, contaminated food, and from mother to child.
Nevertheless, congenital transmission is the route that has shown the greatest increase in the last years.
The program “Not a single baby with Chagas: the path towards new generations free of Chagas disease” will be focused precisely on reducing vertical transmission of this tropical parasitic disease. In Latin America, 1.12 million women of childbearing age are estimated to be infected, and between 8,000 and 15,000 infected babies are born each year.
The goal is that all the babies born with Chagas disease and women of childbearing age have access to early diagnosis and treatment, with the aim of preventing mother-to-child transmission and reducing the consequences in infected people.
WHO data indicate that Chagas disease is endemic in 21 countries of the Americas and affects an estimated 6 million people.
However, 7 out of 10 people infected with Chagas disease are unaware of their condition due to the lack of clinical symptoms, with only 1% of them receiving proper health care.
The initiative against Chagas disease is part of the documents approved at the XXVII Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State and Government in Andorra; the joint statement was focused on health and the environment at a time marked by the COVID-19 pandemic.