The Medicines and Health Technologies Unit at PAHO participated in the panal session on Policy Initiatives to Break the Cycle of Neglect for Chagas at the Global Health Council, Washington DC, June 16 2010
Discovered 100 years ago, Chagas disease kills an estimated 14,000 people every year and remains the leading parasitic killer in the Americas. An estimated 100 million people are at risk and up to 15 million are infected. Endemic in Latin America, Chagas also affects people in North America, Europe, and Asia. A number of factors have kept Chagas disease at the bottom of public health agendas, including marginalization of infected populations, the difficulties in diagnosing and treating the disease, and low awareness in the medical community. There is a renewed commitment at the international level and from governments at the national level to address the issue as Chagas has been identified by PAHO Member States as one of the neglected disease for which opportunities exist to significantly reduce the disease burden in the mid to long term.
The governing bodies of WHO and PAHO have recently adopted important resolutions to address the issue of neglected disease including Chagas, from both the disease management perspective as well as from the perpsective of public health, innovation and intellectual property. In addition the international landscape has become favorable for a concerted and coordinated response from all stakeholders - governments, international funding and cooperation agencies, academia, industry and civil society - to develop targeted and integrated startegies to improve comprehensive care and treatment.
PAHO is working with countries in an effort to integrate disease management into primary health care. Access to Medicines is a critical component of the stratey and requires efforts in improving availability of current technologies through the PAHO Strategic Fund, as well as the promotion and strengthening of policy and regulatory frameworks in favor of the development of new medicines and other health technologies. Through the regional perpsective of the Global Strategy and Plan of Action in Public Health, innovation and Intellectual Property, efforts are underway to improves access, and promote innovation.