Chagas disease is a silent killer. Throughout the Americas, an estimated 8-10 million people, most of whom are predominantly poor and marginalized, are infected by the deadly parasite causing Chagas disease, Trypanosoma cruzi. Children are particularly affected. With globalization, the disease is increasingly found in the US, Europe, Australia, and Japan. The US is now the seventh most affected nation worldwide.
Tens of thousands of patients die each year from Chagas disease. About 30% of chronically infected individuals will develop heart complications with high probability of death. Less than 0.2% receive treatment today (DNDi, unpublished data). New problems are emerging notably with mother-to-child transmission, which could become the new face of Chagas disease.
Chagas disease is a hidden public health crisis needing increased and urgent attention.
As researchers, clinicians, patients, funders, civil society, and public health practitioners engaged in research and development (R&D) and implementation of treatment and prevention programs, we have decided to join forces to create a coalition aimed at changing the future of Chagas disease.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) have developed strategic plans supporting national control programs in endemic countries. Other recent initiatives such as the 2012 Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases ‘London Declaration’ have included Chagas disease as a priority.
This context represents an unprecedented opportunity to help define a patient-centered agenda that boosts access to existing health tools and treatments, supports integrated vector-control prevention measures, and expands global efforts to stimulate innovation for new and improved tools to control Chagas disease.