In December, a three-year project helping to develop better awareness, diagnosis  and treatment of Chagas disease came to an end.

Medical services for the potentially fatal Chagas disease, caused by a parasitic infection transmitted by the triatomine bug, are particularly lacking in remote, rural areas such as the    Paraguayan Chaco.

In Boquerón, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, piloted an intervention strategy to bring diagnosis and treatment  closer to Chaco’s most isolated communities. Activities were integrated into Boquerón regional hospital, two smaller hospitals, and 15 health centres and health posts. Mobile teams also visited  120 remote communities that lacked a local health infrastructure.

The project was complemented by community education activities throughout the country and the training of  medical staff (through workshops and academic meetings) and those undertaking entomological surveillance of the bug. A Chagas School Guide was created in collaboration with groups  of teachers, and 196 people were trained to use it as a tool in health education.

In total, over the course of the project, 15,330 people were tested for Chagas and 1,632 received treatment. MSF continues to support Paraguayan health authorities from a distance in the development of a national protocol for Chagas diagnosis and treatment. MSF advocates the delivery of  Chagas care within the basic healthcare system, integrated with community education and entomological surveillance and control.

No. staff end 2013: 55 | Year MSF first worked in the country: 2010

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