As many as one million people are estimated to be infected with Chagas disease in Bolivia.
People can live with this parasitic disease for years without symptoms. Complications develop in about a third of cases and can lead to death without treatment. Chagas is endemic across 60 per cent of Bolivia and is commonly transmitted by the vinchuca bug (Triatoma infestans), which lives in the cracks and roofs of rural adobe houses. Only four per cent of those people infected get treatment, owing to a lack of access to care. The government recognises this as a major health issue and has been working to address it; however, Chagas treatment is not guaranteed or integrated into basic healthcare.
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has set up Chagas treatment programmes over the years it has been working in Bolivia, particularly in narciso Campero province in Cochabamba department, where the disease is especially prevalent. The health ministry has managed that programme since 2013. In 2014, MSF teams focused on another priority area: Chuquisaca department, Monteagudo municipality, in hernando Siles province. hardly any of the 61,900 residents of this region have access to treatment. In partnership with the health ministry, MSF is working on a model of prevention and treatment to be integrated into the basic healthcare system.
MSF also collaborated with the health ministry in partnership with Johns hopkins university this year to prepare the launch of EMOCHA, an e-mobile surveillance application. upon detection of a vinchuca infestation, a community volunteer will send a free SMS to a central information system, and a vector control team will be deployed.
No. of staff in 2014: 12 | expenditure: €0.5 million | year msf first worked in the country: 1986 | msf.org/bolivia