World Chagas Disease Day

News Excerpt:

World Chagas Disease Day is a global healthcare event observed on the 14th of April every year.

World Chagas Disease Day:

  • It was first celebrated on the 14th of April 2020 after it was approved and endorsed by the World Health Assembly at the World Health Organization (WHO) in May 2019.
  • World Chagas Day aims to raise awareness of Chagas disease, improve early detection, expand diagnostic coverage, and provide equitable access to clinical care.
  • Theme 2024: “Tackling Chagas disease: detect early and care for life”. 
    • This theme emphasizes raising public awareness of Chagas disease and developing more funding and support for early detection along with follow-up care initiatives.

Chagas disease (American trypanosomiasis):

  • It is a potentially life-threatening illness caused by the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi or (T. cruzi).
  • Chagas disease is prevalent among poor populations of continental Latin America but is increasingly being detected in other countries and continents.
  • It can be transmitted by the triatomine bug (vector-borne), as well as orally (food-borne), during pregnancy or birth (congenital), through blood/blood products, organ transplantation, and laboratory accidents.
  • Chagas disease is named after Carlos Justiniano Chagas, a Brazilian doctor, who discovered the disease in 1909.
  • Chagas disease is clinically curable if antiparasitic treatment is initiated at an early stage. Therefore universal access to prompt diagnosis and care is essential.
    • There is no vaccine to prevent Chagas disease.
  • Chagas disease has two successive phases: an acute phase and a chronic phase.
    • Most acute phases are asymptomatic or have non-specific symptoms.
    • During the chronic phase, patients may also be symptom-free but some may progress to clinical forms of the disease (cardiac, digestive, and/or neurological), which can be life-threatening if left undiagnosed and untreated.
  • Chagas disease can be treated with benznidazole or nifurtimox. Both medicines kill the parasite and are fully effective in curing the disease if given early in the acute phase.
  • WHO recognized Chagas disease as a Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) in 2005.
    • NTDs are diseases of neglected populations that perpetuate a cycle of poor educational outcomes and limited professional opportunities; in addition, are associated with stigma and social exclusion.
    • They are ‘neglected’ because they are almost absent from the global health agenda and have very limited resources.

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