Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) handed over its Chagas programme in Aiquile after successfully establishing an integrated prevention, diagnosis and treatment strategy.
Chagas, a parasitic disease endemic in Latin America, is most commonly transmitted through the bites of infected vinchuca bugs, which are often found in cracks in the walls and roofs of rural adobe houses. The disease can be asymptomatic for many years, but if left untreated it may affect internal organs and can lead to heart failure and even death.
Treatment for Chagas in Narciso Campero province, where disease prevalence is estimated to be as high as 40 per cent, has always been difficult both geographically and financially. The majority of inhabitants live in remote areas far from the urban hospitals and health centres that offer treatment, and which often charge a fee.
In 2009, MSF began an integrated Chagas programme in the communities of Aiquile, Omereque and Pasorapa. Working through community clinics and health centres, teams diagnosed and treated people aged one to 60 for Chagas, and trained local health staff. Significant efforts were made to raise awareness and the communities were involved in surveillance and control of Chagas through educational workshops, weekly meetings and a radio show.
In September 2013, the project was handed over as planned to the Departmental Chagas Programme of the Ministry of Health and the province’s Health Network Management. MSF is planning a new project in Aiquile, which will implement a sustainable treatment model that can be replicated in other locations.
Year MSF first worked in the country: 1986