New treatments and diagnostics to prevent Chagas transmission from mother to child

Detecting and treating congenital transmission of Chagas is key to eliminate the disease

Challenges

Chagas disease is a potentially life-threatening neglected tropical disease caused by a parasite called Trypanosoma cruzi.

About 6 to 7 million people worldwide, mostly in Latin America, are estimated to be infected with this disease.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that only 7% of people with Chagas disease are diagnosed, and only 1% receive appropriate treatment, resulting in high morbidity and mortality as well as a large economic burden. Every year, over 10 000 people die from the Chagas disease and more than 25 million people risk acquiring it.

Chagas disease mainly affects poor and vulnerable populations.

Mother-to-child transmission is a key infection route as Chagas often remains undetected and untreated in both mothers and their new-borns.

The fight against the disease faces a number of barriers including: poor knowledge and understanding of the disease by both people at risk and health professionals;  lack of integrated surveillance, control and care;  lack of effective policies and funding; long treatment regimen (60 days) with frequent side effects and inefficient diagnostics.

Solutions

Led by Fiotec, Brazil, the CUIDA Chagas project funded by Unitaid aims to address these challenges in four targeted countries: Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia and Paraguay. Activities have been designed to improve access to effective and innovative diagnostics and treatments while also catalysing adoption throughout the Latin America region and beyond.

Essential components of the project include clinical trials aimed at validating simplified diagnostic algorithms using rapid tests at primary health centers to reduce the time between screening, diagnosis and treatment completion. The grant will also look at generating evidence on the efficacy of a shorter treatment option for chronic Chagas disease (15 days instead of 60 days).

Furthermore, the project will include interventions aimed at strengthening supply chains and improve equitable access to key products while engaging with communities and civil society to design and execute the interventions.

 “We are proud to support the CUIDA Chagas project, bringing much needed innovations to a neglected disease and furthering regional and global collaboration. We see this investment as an essential step towards the elimination of Chagas disease transmission from mothers to their babies”

Mauricio Cysne, Unitaid Director of External Relations.

The impact we are seeking

Through the implementation of research studies in four countries, the project will identify and treat thousands of mothers with Chagas disease and their newborns using innovative test, treat and care approaches.

The evidence and tools generated through the project will be widely disseminated and leveraged to facilitate the adoption of feasible and cost-effective care for Chagas disease regionally and globally.



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