April 14, 2023: World Chagas Disease Day
On April 14, 2023, World Chagas Disease Day will be celebrated, as it is every year. This year's edition comes with the motto "Universal Care and Surveillance of Chagas Disease from the First Level of Health Care."
This global anniversary was declared at the 72nd Meeting of the WHO Assembly on May 20, 2019, and is celebrated every April 14, the day on which Brazilian physician and researcher Carlos Chagas, in 1909, diagnosed the first human case of the disease on a two-year-old girl named Berenice.
Chagas disease is little known, despite an estimated 6 to 7 million people affected worldwide. It is, in fact, part of the neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).
Due to migratory movements of the Latin American population, Chagas is not only present in Latin American countries, but also in Canada, some Western Pacific countries, and many European countries, including Italy for the past few years. However, worldwide, only 1 percent of those affected actually have free access to treatments designed for this disease, due to its predominantly asymptomatic nature and the scarcity of centers that provide treatment and engage in active research. In this sense, in 2023, in Italy, the only referral hospitals for Chagas disease are "Spallanzani" hospital in Rome, "Careggi" in Florence, "Papa Giovanni XXIII" in Bergamo, and "Sacro Cuore Don Calabria" in Verona.
Each year Findechagas proposes a theme to celebrate World Chagas Disease Day. In past editions some themes have been "making Chagas disease visible in the world," and "ensuring access to diagnosis and treatment."
For this 2023 World Chagas Disease Day's central theme is "integrating Chagas disease into primary health care." According to WHO, in fact, many countries have low detection rates of the disease (<10%, often <1%) and a high lack of adequate health care.
The goal of World Day is to call attention to this disease by activating interventions that facilitate diagnosis, especially in South American women of childbearing age so as to reduce the danger of transmitting the disease to unborn children.
In addition, it is important to emphasize the impact of Chagas Disease (like all forgotten infectious diseases) on health, the regional health care system, and overall quality of life.
Promoting, disseminating, and strengthening health policies that take neglected tropical diseases seriously fits into the World Health Organization's current Sustainable Development Goals framework, to be achieved by 2030. It includes ambitious goals that engage not only the endemic countries of Latin America, but also all countries affected by heavy Latin American migration in recent decades and where Chagas disease continues to be poorly known and diagnosed.