Fighting Chagas Disease

Partnership objectives

  1. Control: build model houses, community education and awareness-raising (by focusing on women as a communication channel)
  2. Apply a vector monitoring system
  3. Set up public-private partnerships to improve the diagnosis and treatment of Chagas disease, especially among children under 15 years
  4. Information: provide Chagas disease education in schools

Towards a comprehensive approach to the control of Chagas disease in indigenous communities Towards a comprehensive approach to the control of Chagas disease in indigenous communities Copyright Sanofi

What are the health needs and challenges?

The Gran Chaco region, which extends to Bolivia, Argentina and Paraguay, is hyper-endemic for Chagas disease.. Despite an ongoing regional campaign to eliminate Chagas disease conducted by the ‘Southern Cone Initiative,’ the transmission (mediated through the vector Triatoma infestans) persists in much of the Gran Chaco.

The system for monitoring the vector of Chagas disease is incipient. There are also communication difficulties with the diversity of languages spoken by ethnic groups in addition to the conditions of extreme poverty in which they live.

Description of partnership activities and how they address needs and challenges

The Sanofi Espoir Foundation and the Sanofi Paraguayan affiliate have supported SAIB association since 2011, with a project focusing on 4 of the Paraguayan Chaco's indigenous communities, which were reinfested by Chaga’s vectors after chemical spraying. The project established a reporting system in the communities through early detection of the presence of vectors with pre-tested devices with semio chemicals that attract indoor vectors. Early detection allows for rapid elimination of threats to re-infestation.

The program also built a body of knowledge aimed at developing multisectorial strategies for sustainable control and surveillance based on principles of participatory environmental management. Constructed around several pillars, the partnership aimed to:

  • Control the disease by constructing model houses based on an ecosystem approach, a gendered perspective and factoring ethnic diversity in the region. Model houses have walls and ceilings that eliminate entry points for the vector and use the roof for water collection, leading to healthy and environmentally friendly households.
  • Monitor the disease by design and implementing sustainable vector surveillance models based on the ecosystem perspective of participating communities, accompanied by actions to strengthen tools for early detection of re-infestation of the vector for Chagas disease via peri-domestic or wild vector populations
  • Reduce the burden of the disease by strengthening local health services diagnosis and treatment of Chagas disease, and through public-private partnerships which strengthen the actions and capacities of government agencies and local leaders
  • Strengthen the school as the gateway to the control of Chagas disease by involving students in vector surveillance

Summary of impact and forward looking information

The intent of this support was for community leaders to learn how to negotiate with national authorities to gain aid for their communities and how to organize themselves in a common objective.

The participatory approach to this project enabled, education and the incorporation of preventive measures against the disease and against other housing-related and environmental factors. With help from the group of investigators, the community leaders have met with the Ministry for Social Action to request food aid for their communities and participate in development projects for family Gardens.

Partnership information

Company(ies) Sanofi

Partner(s) Centro para el Desarrollo de la Investigación Cientifica, Fundación Moisés Bertoni, Institute of Biomedicine, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) / Doctors without Borders, Paraguay Ministry of Health

Type of Partner(s) Academia / Hospitals, Government, NGOs

Therapeutic Focus Neglected Tropical Diseases

Disease(s) Chagas Disease

Program Type(s) Health System Infrastructure - Development of Physical Infrastructure, Health System Infrastructure - Training, Prevention Programs - Awareness & Outreach

Targeted Population(s) Children, Marginalised / Indigenous People, Men, Mothers, People with low income, Women, Youth

Region(s) Latin America & Caribbean

Number of Countries 1

Country(ies) Paraguay

Start Date 2011

More information Sanofi Espoir Foundation

Completed date 2013