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MSF launches campaign to raise awareness of Chagas Disease

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders launches a sensitization campaign to raise awareness about Chagas Disease

The initiative targets people in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and the United States in advance of International Chagas Disease Day

Rio de Janeiro, April 14th – The international humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) launches the awareness campaign “A big heart is not always a good thing” for International Chagas Disease Day (4/14). The initiative aims to raise public awareness of Chagas disease and remind that, contrary to what many people think, it still affects the health and quality of life of millions of people around the world, especially in Latin America, where it is endemic.

By accessing the webpage chagas.msf.br/en (chagas.msf.br/es for the Spanish version), social media users can share stories of people affected by Chagas to bring attention to this disease and explain that it is still a serious public health issue.

There are more than 6 million people affected by Chagas disease worldwide, but only 1 out of 10 people affected have been diagnosed. Twelve thousand people die each year from causes associated with this disease, and about 75 million live at risk of being infected in Latin America.

“Since there are no systematic diagnosis programs, this number is certainly underestimated. Many people end up dying without even knowing they were infected,” says Juan-Carlos Cubides, MSF epidemiologist. “This scenario can only be changed by public policies, which are only prioritized when there is a pressure from society, and this engagement begins with the dissemination of information. It is precisely this effect that we want to provoke with this sensitization initiative.”

From 1999 to 2016, MSF developed primary health care projects for those affected by Chagas disease. These projects have been implemented in several countries, including Bolivia, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua. MSF also trained health professionals in Brazil to respond to Chagas.