World Chagas Disease Day 2021: The global community is celebrating World Chagas Disease Day for the second time in 2021. The aim of this day is to put the spotlight on Chagas disease, the suffering it causes, and the call for comprehensive and equitable access to health care and services for everyone affected by the disease.
The disease also known as American trypanosomiasis, can be transmitted by vectorial transmission (T. cruzi parasites are mainly transmitted by contact with faeces/urine of infected blood-sucking triatomine bugs. These bugs, vectors that carry the parasites, typically live in the wall or roof cracks of poorly constructed homes in rural or suburban areas. Normally they hide during the day and become active at night when they feed on human blood. They usually bite an exposed area of skin such as the face, and the bug defecates close to the bite.
Chagas disease has been termed as a “silent and silenced disease”, not only because of its slowly progressing and frequently asymptomatic clinical course but also because it affects mainly poor people who have no political voice or access to health care.
This day was first celebrated on April 14, 2020, and was named after Carlos Ribeiro Justiniano Chagas, the Brazilian doctor who diagnosed the first case on 14 April 1909.
Chagas disease is prevalent among poor populations of continental Latin America but is increasingly being detected in other countries and continents. It is often termed as a “silent and silenced disease” as the infected majority have no symptoms or extremely mild symptoms.
World Chagas Disease Day 2021: Awareness
Chagas disease patients comprise risk groups that can present severe forms of COVID-19 and should be prioritized for vaccination. There are approximately 6-7 million people infected with Chagas disease worldwide, with 10,000 deaths, every year.
Raising awareness and the profile of this neglected tropical disease, which is often diagnosed in its late stages, is essential to improve the rates of early treatment and cure, together with the interruption of its transmission.
Evidence-based, cost-effective interventions exist, including screening (blood, organs, and of newborns and children), early case detection, prompt treatment of cases, vector control, hygiene, and food safety.
World Chagas Disease Day is one of 11 official global public health campaigns marked by the World Health Organization (WHO), along with World Tuberculosis Day, World Health Day, World Malaria Day, World Immunization Week, World No Tobacco Day, World Blood Donor Day, World Hepatitis Day, World Patient Safety Day, World Antimicrobial Awareness Week and World AIDS Day.