''The establishment of the WHO Global Network to combat Chagas disease occurs in the broader context of the WHO's renewed fight against neglected tropical diseases. The prospects for reducing the burden caused by these diseases have changed dramatically in the past few years. While Chagas disease is controlled in many countries in the
Chagas disease is a serious, potentially life-threatening illness caused by a protozoan parasite called T. cruzi. Early symptoms can include fever, fatigue, swollen glands and heart pain, but in later years the infection can lead to chronic debilitation caused by progressive destruction of the heart muscle. It occurs mainly in
''Remarkable success has been achieved in the Region of the
(PAHO) has worked with the countries on sub-regional initiatives to prevent, control and treat Chagas with key partners, including Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Agence Canadienne de Developpement International (ACDI), Agencia Espanola de Cooperacion Internacional (AECI), Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF), International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and others.
''The Pan American Health Organization's successes in Chagas' control are a significant contribution to the global strategy to eliminate this debilitating disease,'' said Dr. David L. Heymann, WHO's assistant director-general for communicable diseases. ''The new WHO Global Network for Chagas Elimination will ensure we leverage and expand upon the successes in Latin
The parasite that causes Chagas disease is called T. cruzi and is mainly transmitted by large blood-sucking insects, sometimes known as kissing bugs which often colonize the homes of poorer rural communities in
Comprised of expert-led technical groups, the WHO Global Network will focus on several key aspects of the Chagas problem including:
-- Strengthening epidemiological surveillance and information systems;
-- Preventing transmission by blood transfusion and organ transplantation in endemic and non-endemic countries;
-- Identifying a diagnostic test(s) for screening and diagnosis of infections;
-- Expanding secondary prevention of congenital transmission and case management of congenital and non-congenital infections; and
-- Promoting a consensus on adequate case management.
In keeping with the goal of eliminating Chagas disease by 2010, the WHO Global Network will develop a five-pillar strategy before the end of this year. The efforts to eliminate Chagas disease are enhanced by the pharmaceutical industry, which is providing financial support to the Network, along with donations of one of the two drugs known to be effective for the treatment of the disease.
Source: World Health Organization