ASUNCION – The Pan American Health Organization certified the work of Paraguay and Chile in managing to impede the domestic spread of Trypanosoma cruzi, the parasite that transmits Chagas disease, at a ceremony held Wednesday in Asuncion attended by health authorities from several Latin American countries.
The PAHO representative in Paraguay, Carlos Castillo, said at the event that the certification of Paraguay and Chile was authorized after “a careful technical analysis performed by well-known experts who visited those countries.”
“They analyzed the information and documentation presented and verified on the ground that the interruption (in the spread of Chagas) has occurred,” Castillo said.
He added that this constitutes another achievement for Paraguayan and Chilean public health authorities and congratulated the officials of both nations for their work in recent years to combat Chagas disease.
In the case of Paraguay, Public Health Minister Antonio Barrios accepted plaques certifying that the northern provinces of Alto Paraguay and Boqueron, in the Chaco region, have halted the transmission of the disease.
“We had 80 percent in the western region, in the Chaco region, and we had 40 percent in the eastern region. That reduced the values to zero-point-zero and therefore (we had) this certification and this trend ... in Paraguay in the reduction of ... Chagas,” Barrios told EFE.
Chile’s representative present at the ceremony, Alfonso Parra, received a new certification accrediting the Andean nation for its 19 years without any reported domestic transmission of Chagas disease.
The awards were presented within the framework of the 22nd Meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission of the Southern Cone for the prevention of and attention to Chagas disease, known as Incosur/Chagas, which is under way in Asuncion until Thursday and is being attended by officials from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Uruguay and Peru.
Chagas is a disease transmitted by a parasite that can infect humans via the bite of the so-called “kissing bug,” which exists all over Latin America and feeds on blood, although it can also be transmitted through blood transfusions, congenitally or orally.
In Paraguay, where 165,000 people suffer from the disease, the Chaco province of Presidente Hayes is the only one where Chagas transmission has not been entirely halted via vectors such as kissing bugs.
Between six and seven million people around the world suffer from Chagas disease, which is endemic in 21 countries in Latin America and causes serious cardiac and digestive problems but can be cured if it is detected and treated in time, according to the World Health Organization.